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About this blog

Figured I would add a talkspace where I could just write about whatever I want, considering the amount of random off-topic conversations I've added to the forum. And yes, the blog name is named after that Ever17 location. My name, however, isn't related to Ever17 whatsoever. It's a coincidence that I decided to make use of. Go figure.

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LemiusK

Two years ago, Warner Brothers released an adaptation of their highly controversial graphic novel, "The Killing Joke", and there was an additional scene previously non-existing in the book: Batigirl fucking Batman. Yeah, fucking Batman. Let's just call it what it is.

Of course, with the kind of relationship both characters previously had towards each other (a father and daughter kind), the Internet went crazy. America went crazy. It was treated as disgusting and highly inappropriate. The film received mixed reviews and was harshly criticized.

Fast-forward to 2018, when I posted my thoughts regarding Swan Song and its unnecessary sex scene. And that got me thinking about the voice-acting process... What if Tara Strong (voice of Barbara Gordon in the aforementioned film) was asked to similarly voiced a sex scene like that? Think about it. Think about the reactions of American voice actresses. "What is this? I didn't sign up for pornography." And yet, thousands of Japanese VAs have willingly put so much effort into voicing cringeworthy sex scenes for very serious stories like "The Fruit of Grisaia" or "G-Senjou no Maou".

It's rather interesting how the two culture treats sex as a taboo (or not). I've always known Japan was more promiscuous when it comes to sex, being rather open-minded to it. But this comparison got me wondering about the kind of thoughts VAs must be having voicing serious dramas while still being asked to moan in orgasm. Must be an interesting voicing session.

Edit: 10 minutes after writing this, I stumbled onto another sex scene in Kara no Shoujo. It's as if you'll accidentally trip into a sex scene just wandering around Japan.

LemiusK

Okay, so I was a bit impatient when pouring out my thoughts on Ever17, so I didn't quite write about how I feel about the VN as a whole, as opposed to just Coco's ending. This is kinda a summary of what I've already written in the "What Are You Playing" thread, so that you could better understand where I'm coming from. Any questions you have regarding my discontent that I haven't explained anywhere else, feel free to ask them in the comment section.

BEWARE OF SPOILERS. For ease of reading, I'm not going to include any spoiler tag.

First of all, I would advise reading this article. It explains quite well the problems with Ever17, and gave me some insight as to why I might not have enjoyed the VN as much as everyone else.

For starters, contrary to that article author, I quite enjoyed every single other routes, even Sora's. They were emotional journeys that have a natural, if predictable character arc, where the characters go through a satisfying character development. I liked Coco, Sora, You, Sara, and even Tsugumi, and there's very little wrong about their routes, even Sora's. The problem is that all of their arcs and character conflicts were resolved within their routes. Where does that leave the true end? What will the true end resolve, then? Certainly not the character conflicts we've already seen resolved. That leaves the true route with only two purposes: revealing the "twist" behind the "accident" and "Coco's true fate."

Like I have stated in earlier posts, Coco's true fate being revealed that late was a major problem, because it's not a conflict we readers were actively worried about during the other routes. It's only hinted upon in other routes that there was one other survivor in Lemu, but more often than not, it's suggested before Coco's route that Coco was 1) either rescued, or 2) she's a hallucination. Even if the suggestion for #2 for some people is that "she's a ghost," that doesn't make sense because of #1. In other words, it's very important that I KNOW Coco is in danger or didn't survive, or I wouldn't care much if she's alive at the end because of what was strongly implied (that she's rescued in the other routes). But I didn't learn about the danger she's in 'till the very end. 

And so, we arrive at the actual ending itself. So in summary: 1) all the characters' conflicts have been resolved in other routes, and 2) I don't care about Coco because I thought she was rescued. Therefore, 3) the true route doesn't have much point besides being an answer route. And that's where the problem comes in: the true route only serves to answer the mystery, not to mention throw in a twist about a fact that I never even bothered to care about before (that Coco might not have survived). This... isn't a good way to end a story. The ending is usually epic and full of closure to conflicts that haven't been resolved. Most importantly, it gives you that emotional satisfaction that the characters have come a long way in their character growth, which couldn't happen because their growth already ended where their routes ended. The only character development/conflict that wasn't resolved was Tsugumi finding her children, which only made up of a small portion of the route, because most of the route is either explaining the truth through flashbacks or filler comedy material (Coco messing around), making most of Coco's route feel dull, repetitive, and just tiresome.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy Coco's comedy routines, but because it's supposed to be the True End, the true route, I was expecting something more serious or resolute, something that brings all the threads together rather than just messing around with comedy. It threw me off a little, being an abnormal kind of true route/resolution.

Finally, the ending also drags. After 10-20 minutes of the false conflict that Coco and Takeshi might be in danger (they're not, because 17 years is enough to prepare a sub), we are given another five minutes of Coco and Hokuto dragging out a comedy scene for way too long, and another 10 minutes of "closure" with everyone in a post-credit scene. Like I said, this ending feels unnecessarily long. I've already explained in detail (WAYP thread) why this happy ending being dragged out this long feels annoying and insincere. It's nice to see the characters all being happy together after the sadness some of them experienced, but the way it's written here, especially the post-credit scene where the story switches from one perspective to another, feels incredibly awkward and drags the entire ending out too much. We've already resolved the conflict for certain characters, so to "resolve" them a second time feels verbose. This ending could have easily been shortened to a five minute scene where the characters talked about the joy of being alive, and a short summary describing their future.

That being said, I did enjoy some of the additional "closure" in this post-credit scene. You's closure felt the most satisfying, because we received additional information regarding her father. Sara's closure was already resolved in her route, so her additional closure here is pointless. Sora's closure was the second most satisfying because we got to see her interaction with Takeshi in a real body. Tsugumi's closure with her children was already resolved earlier, but her getting to see Takeshi alive again was a nice feeling, making her closure the third most satisfying. In summary, the post-credit scene was a little enjoyable, but because of the way it's written, its pacing dragged on.

In closing, there's one more thing I want to talk about: Blick Winkel and the twist that he's us, the reader. Putting aside the fact that the identity of BW was unclear 'till the very end (again, I only found out because Google magic), it is, as I said in "What are you playing", a brilliant twist that does make me more impressed the more I think about it. It does make you think back to all the times when Takeshi/Kid weren't voiced - that person was literally you all the time. Gives you a different kind of perspective. It's a nice design, but unfortunately, it's really like what I've said before, I'm not a big mystery-buff. If the meat of your VN is the mystery, then I can only admire from afar, casually interested. It's like asking someone who's not into fashion to be impressed by the intricate designs of a dress. He can only give passing remarks and nods, not really appreciating the beauty comprehended by fashion-buffs. 

I'm someone who's more into emotional storytelling and character development - both of which were lacking in Coco's route, which made things incredibly disappointing.

So that's all I have to say, and I hope this will give you a clearer understanding why I didn't enjoy the ending as much as I wanted to. I might still try out Never7 and Remember11 in the future, but with a far, far lower expectation from now on.

LemiusK

Transferred from my "YouTube Most Random" post.

Normally, I don't bother rereading stories that I've already read once, but with this one in particular, I might make an exception, especially with its fully animated scenes. In that sense, Steins;Gate Elite might just be reduced to a borderline VN, and not a true VN. lol Guess VNDB will have some trouble cataloguing it, considering what they said about School Days...

Actually, this seems to be a much more appropriate way of reading the story, considering that when I played Steins;Gate the VN back then, I also played Steins;Gate the anime in the background just to watch the anime played out at the same time (meaning "Skyclad Observer" played during that particular scene instead of the VN's mundane soundtrack). In other words, Steins;Gate Elite basically offered the method I used to read Steins;Gate back then but repackage the method into a more convenient and entertaining form. Nice, nice. LOOKING FORWARD TO SKYCLAD OBSERVER IN THE VN. If it's not there, it's a fail, and "Elite" has no point in existing. That OST is a key ingredient!

After thinking back on Steins;Gate, I have to say I retract what I said about Umineko being my most valued story, and this one definitely surpasses it with its equal balance of great characters, story, music, voice-acting, comedy, and most important of all, mainstream appeal. Umineko is kinda niched because of its mystery genre, but Steins;Gate has appeal in a broader area. Because of its entertainment value in such a wide variety of areas (though its comedy and soundtrack played a larger role, especially with Umineko's music being more orchestral, while Steins;Gate contained more rock or electronic music), I feel like Steins;Gate was able to appeal to a wider audience than Umineko. In other words, Umineko was like Lord of the Rings, and Steins;Gate was more like Star Wars.

And no, the fact that it has choices and multiple endings has nothing to do with it, considering I loved Steins;Gate the anime before even playing the VN. Steins;Gate is just much more digestible and more entertaining that way because it doesn't trouble you with as much infodumping as Umineko, and thus, was easier to be adapted in anime form too. Umineko was definitely more complex (and therefore, harder to adapt), and if you've already read what I said about complex stories, you could easily tell why I prefer Steins;Gate.

Footnote: I don't really like that there's a pre-order bonus. I hate pre-order bonuses in general, because it's a cheap way to exclude your customers from bonus material. It's almost like blackmailing in a way, or unfair coercing. With Steins;Gate Elite, it's basically excluding normal customers from two fandiscs, "Steins;Gate 8-bit", and "Steins;Gate Linear Bounded Phenogram". That latter fandisc is something I wanted to read for a long time, but the so-called "patch" only exists on YouTube in video form instead of a patch that you can apply to a game you buy, so I wasn't too comfortable watching that video. And now you're telling me that I can read it in game form, but I need to pre-order. It's just annoying. I could understand the sentiment, that "if you're that big of a Steins;Gate fan, then you shouldn't have a problem pre-ordering it." The sentiment, I could understand. But the action of coercing you to pre-order? I can't accept that principle. It's dirty and cheap.

But I'll probably have no choice but to pre-order anyway, since I'm a huge Steins;Gate fan. That's the reality, and I just have to accept it.

LemiusK

The Key visual novel, "Little Busters!", has some additional routes in its "Ecstasy version" with two new heroines. These new routes weren't translated back then, which was why I didn't get to play them when I first played Little Busters. Now that they have been translated, however, I'm still unaware of how these new routes are accessed, and whether if they would require me to replay the whole story or not. If so, then it's a good example of why playing a partially translated VN is a bad idea, particularly for lazy people like myself who aren't willing to go back years or even decades later to reread the whole thing just for some hours of additional content.

This applies to Chaos;Head as well, of which its remake, the untranslated "Chaos;Head Noah", contains additional routes and heroines as well. Given what has happened to my relationship with Little Busters, I think I'm rather glad that I didn't ruin my reading experience by prematurely playing its original translated version. Maybe it's just a way to comfort myself in knowing I haven't got to experience such a popular VN, but if so, then so be it, I'm comforting myself 'till the remake has been translated in one or two or even three years.

Of course, none of this matters if the additional routes are selectable in the main menu, and you could just immediately access them... but I highly doubt that. Most VN routes like this usually require you to unlock the True End first or something like that.

LemiusK

Infodumping. It's an aspect in VN that I usually don't like, but put up with it from time to time. If the lore described in the infodump is interesting, however, I usually don't mind, which is why Fate/Stay Night and Muv-Luv Alternative usually get a pass from me.

This time, however, there's a combination of factors that makes Aoishiro's infodumping far more tedious than others. Yes, the untranslated encyclopedia is one of the main factors, and a key factor in fact, since it would be more convenient and the reading experience more comfortable if I have an in-game encyclopedia to refer to.  The poor translation of the dialogue is also another factor, since there were many spelling and syntax errors, making the awkward dialogue cumbersome to read and difficult to make out its meaning. This isn't much of a problem if your dialogue involves everyday slice-of-life conversations, but obviously, this isn't the case, since it involves very heavy use of unfamiliar folklore jargon and names.

But more than that, I guess it's also all the Japanese folklore stuff... I don't really find ancient folklore enjoyable or interesting. I don't even like western medieval folklore, and Asian ancient folklore certainly puts me off far more than western ones, despite being an Asian myself. Sigh. Sci-fi jargon is just far more interesting, which is why I also put up with Ever17. Fantasy elements, not my cup of tea. And then there's all this kendo jargon I have to sift through too. What pain...

To put it in another way, I don't really enjoy reading a story that I don't comprehend, which is why I also don't enjoy mysteries and complicated stories delving into philosophical musings and whatnot. It's just a pain to bother understanding what the hell they're talking about. At least with mysteries, everything is explained in the end. In this case, nothing can be explained because nothing is translated in the encyclopedia.

While that's not an inherent flaw of the VN itself, and more to do with the translation (or lack thereof)... mendokusai. Truly mendokusai. Pain in the ass. I kept finding myself Googling terms that I don't know about every hour or two. It's truly an unpleasant reading experience.

Man, Swan Song might not have choices, but at least it doesn't force me to Google what some ancient foreign figure from another country had done 800,000 years ago or whatever. Sigh. Who the hell cares...

The only saving grace, aside from its occasionally interesting branching routes, is Momoko keeping things light with her goofy shenanigans, allowing the more traditional slice-of-life drama to flow in. Everything else thus far is boring, a freaking chore, and a pain to read through.

Chances of dropping Aoishiro is very likely, with the odds increasing by the hour. Such a disappointment. And I had high hopes for it too because of its multiple endings.

I think the key reason this is such a problem is because I wasn't familiarized with the characters before the story dropped me into a sea of infodump. Even Fate/Stay Night bothered to try and get me closer with the characters, maybe even like them as a person before talking about witchery and whatnot. Aoishiro, on the other hand, began its story immediately with a lecture flashback, ended that flashback with another lecture, and then proceeds to dump even more lectures for the next three to four hours of your reading. Jeez... It's like I'm reading a history textbook! What kind of writing is this?

LemiusK

Usually, when you hear "Normal End," you wouldn't really hear someone say, "First Normal End" since there's usually only one Normal End that unlocks the True End (with the exceptions being "Normal End" for Heroine A or Heroine B). Seems like Aoishiro breaks that mold by not having Bad Ends, but also multiple "Normal Ends" as well.

This actually reminds me of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: Matsuri, the PS2 version of Higurashi that features a branching route structure filled with Bad Ends (which is why I really wanted to play it over the vanilla Higurashi sound novel; but it's untranslated and I don't own a Playstation 2). There was actually one Bad End I remember distinctly where (Higurashi spoiler)

Spoiler

Keiichi ran away from the town instead of trying to solve the mystery. This apparently led to something terrible, but I couldn't find out exactly what...

So yeah, this "Normal End" definitely reminds me of that, because I (Aoishiro spoiler)

Spoiler

chose to go home instead of waiting for the storm to pass, which seemed like a sensible decision, but I also got the feeling it's one of those "Go home" endings where the game tells you that "What are you even playing this for if you don't have that sense of adventure?!" lol

Sigh. It's kinda a silly ending, but I love it, because it's still a sensible decision on my part, and the game allowed me to make that choice.

Anyway, aside from the untranslated encyclopedia and (therefore) my ignorance of its folklore jargon, I actually kinda dig how the endings are structured. Hopefully, my limited knowledge of its folklore won't affect my enjoyment of the story, because things are just starting to get interesting.

On an unrelated note, from now on, whenever the last post of "What are you playing?" belongs to me, I would probably just post my updates here in blog form instead to avoid double posting.

LemiusK

There have often been times in the Grisaia series when Michiru and Yumiko were compared to one another by Yuuji, and this was not surprising. Both Michiru and Yumiko are tsunderes on some level - Michiru being the fake tsundere, and while Yumiko is more of a kuudere, there have been occasional tsun-tsun moments with her. Such superficial similarities aside, both individuals also suffer from the more textbook forms of social anxiety (Makina's anxiety is a bit more complex and special, hence why I'm leaving her out for the sake of this post), and both have compensated this anxiety with unhealthy methods. The difference between such methods, however, is where Yumiko excels in "The Labyrinth of Grisaia", whereas Michiru is still stuck in her old unhealthy ways.

Grisaia spoilers at this point:

Spoiler

In "Labyrinth", rather than pretending to be someone else like Michiru does with her tsundere act, Yumiko has learned to embrace her softer and more affectionate side, learning to just enjoy the present and the companionship of her friends. In comparison, Michiru is stuck to her old ways of acting like a goofball for her "tsundere" act, whether within her own route, or outside of it. This is a tremendous disappointment for me, as someone who was a fan of hers, because the ending to her route in "The Fruits of Grisaia" hinted that she might have broken past this facade and learned to appreciate herself more. Unfortunately, "Labyrinth" regresses her character for... comedic relief.

This is the reason why sometimes, I really dislike the comic relief, because they're essentially a sacrifice who won't grow beyond being an idiot. Sometimes, a story does fix this by claiming that the goofball's charm lies in him or her being an idiot. Grisaia does something similar (very seldomly), but for such a serious story dealing with mental health problems, I just couldn't accept such a disrespectful answer. It's not only disrespectful to the character and fans of the character wanting to see her grow as a person, but also disrespectful towards real life patients suffering from similar issues.

Now, as to whether Yumiko's After Story is better than Michiru's due to this important difference in character growth... it is, on some level. Yumiko's AS is still, as @Dreamysyu put it, kinda boring.

Spoiler

At times, the lessons she attend feel like instruction manuals for would-be housewives reading such a story. This is especially so for Sachi's lesson, which was very straight-laced and lacks in jokes. Compare this to Michiru's AS, which is full of jokes, at the sacrifice of character growth. What makes Yumiko's AS stand out from Michiru's, however, is that she does in fact grow as a person. Such growth is the beauty of her route, as she probably has the most distinctive character growth from her past self to her current self compared to the four other heroines. While Amane, Sachi, Makina, and Michiru have either retained some (or in Michiru's cast, all) aspects of their past character - be it sluttiness, having a forced father figure, or being subservient to Yuuji - Yumiko has chosen to grow beyond that and become a much more respectable and admirable person as a result.

Unfortunately, her character development being the strongest also means that her AS is also the most idealistic and, as some would say, boring. An idealistic ending isn't necessarily interesting. If anything, flaws make a character more interesting, so the discarding of her past flaws have now left Yumiko's AS in a rather predictable structure where she grows as a person and is happy with it. It's a nice feeling for Yumiko's fans, but as a story, it just isn't that interesting.

If I'm to rank the different AS, I'd say it goes something like this:

Sachi > Amane > Makina > Yumiko > Michiru

Yes, Michiru's AS is at the bottom. After seeing how much Yumiko grew, especially, I just couldn't tolerate how much Michiru has regressed. It's frustrating to see for a fan of hers like myself.

Having said that, with Michiru's weakness reminding myself of my own weakness as a person, I don't know if I could ever enjoy seeing her again in the same positive light when I read future stories. She's become something of an eyesore.

LemiusK

Disappointed to learn that Swan Song only has two Bad Ends, a Normal End, followed by an unlocked True End. That means there will probably be very few choices. Now I remember why I dropped this in the first place back then.

There were only two VNs I've completed that had either very few choices or no choices at all: Umineko no Naku Koro ni and Grisaia no Kajitsu, and I only read both of them due to their reputation as amazing stories (not just "good" or "great," but so amazing that they received enough acclaim to push into an anime adaptation). Swan Song has no such reputation.

And that's really beside the point. I have a policy where, no matter how good a story is, if it has little to no choices, it gets pushed back in my priority list, or dropped entirely. Grisaia was a very special exception that I made a long time ago, and I only bothered to read its sequel, "Grisaia no Meikyuu", because I've read the first one and got attached to its characters. Umineko has an even greater reputation than Grisaia, so of course, I couldn't ignore it because I'm someone who desires to experience the best of the best, be it anime, manga, or visual novel. Same deal with the highly acclaimed Muv-Luv Alternative, which I only gave a 9 in spite of its reputation.

Why this policy, you ask? There's no overly complicated reason, really. It's just... more boring to read through a kinetic novel, that's all. No interaction. No engagement. Just reading. And clicking. There's no false sense of illusion that you're part of the story. You're just a passive bystander watching events unfold far away. Doesn't help that I've never been much of a reader to begin with. Visual novels have pictures, after all, so they're more accessible than books.

I'm about an hour and a half into the story. Not a bad story so far. Has a very tragic and almost nihilistic start. It's not bad, but... there is the anxiety that I might get bored soon and drop it for greener pastures. I am juggling with six VNs right now, after all, not to mention Fate/hollow ataraxia, which I haven't even began yet (plan to read that one after I'm done with Ever17). With the amount of backlog I have after visiting that kamige thread on Fuwa, chances of dropping are increasing. I don't like to be bored, no matter the circumstances. Boredom invites... idle thoughts. But that's another topic for another day.

Having said all that, I do feel incredibly bad for Aroe. I asked myself what I would do under the protagonist's circumstances. Her sister (or mother?)'s words rung true; people are cruel, and I caught myself thinking that I would kill her more than once, put her out of her misery. That just shows the human nature side of me, taking the easy way out. I just looked at her, and wondered if this was a real person, would I be kind enough to take care of her for 10 years? 20 years? I might sympathize her because she's some cute girl right now, but when she gets older and becomes haggard, would I get tired of her and maybe become angry or frustrated at her? Most likely yes. I'm not someone of great tolerance, evidently.

Not sure why I still haven't warmed up to kinetic novels, or VNs with few choices. Guess there's always this... anxiety that comes with trying new things. I'm someone who's more comfortable with the old and familiar. Call me spoiled but, that's just the way I am. I don't like wasting my time experimenting with new stuff that I might come to dislike later on. It's a narrow-minded view, but... I've grown accustomed with such a lifestyle.

But if I really think about why I dislike kinetic novels, I think it's because of the emptiness they bring. There's just such a fundamental difference in reading a VN where you pick the choices and a KN that lets you passively experience a story by the side. The former gives you an experience that's more... personal. The latter feels more alienated. And honestly, this difference was not noticeable before I read VNs. TV shows and movies are the same, as in they let you, the passive viewer, experience the story by the side, and yet I loved them all the same. But when it comes to the more static KNs with its static imagery, I guess the lack of animation, combined with the knowledge the VNs offer something deeper, is the reason I shy away from KNs and VNs with few choices. Because they feel emptier, now that I know what VNs with choices feel like.

Even something like Telltale's The Walking Dead, where there's only a single ending, feels more personal because I got to make many decisions throughout. Superficial decisions, yes; meaningless, arbitrary decisions, yes; but the illusion is there. The illusion of putting you in the driver's seat is far deeper and more effective because of said decisions. This was especially so in season 2 of TWD, where you get to control Clementine. It almost felt like I'm shaping her character, shaping this little girl into the adult she'll become - even if that isn't true in the long run. It's all about the illusion and the experience.

Anyway, it's probably too soon to judge anything, since I've barely started Swan Song. Just wanted to put all my thoughts out here, as well as have an excuse to write a new blog entry. :makina: Let's just hope this VN doesn't disappoint me. My expectations of its story quality have grown higher, now that I know it's lacking in the "choices" department I've always liked.

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