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About this blog

This is a blog primarily focusing on but not limited to VNs.  It is primarily designed to express my opinion on otaku media (jrpgs, anime, manga, LNs, VNs, etc), individual VNs, and otaku community issues.   Most of the posts are related to my VN of the Month and Random VN columns, originally started in threads in the forums. 

As of March of 2017, I'm also looking for people to help with VN of the Month.

Entries in this blog

Clephas

First, for those who haven't already read it, these are my thoughts on Minori: http://forums.fuwanovel.net/index.php?/blog/46/entry-341-clephass-rave-minori-vns-and-why-i-dislike-them/

Read that if you want to know where I'm coming from when I talk about Minori, because I don't like repeating myself, unless it is to brainwash people into playing Dies Irae.

Common Route

I'm going to come out and say this... this is a typical Minori common route. It feels like every other Minori game (other than Eden*) I've played, and I came away from it as pissed off and depressed as you might expect. Self-hating protagonists are all well and good, but self-hating protagonists who hate themselves and fail utterly to learn from their mistakes are irritating as hell.

Haruka

... now if you expected me to rave and hate about Haruka's route as much as I did in the previous post about Minori, you are in for a surprise. Haruka actually managed to grab and keep my interest, and the route is actually quite excellent. I still hated the protagonist for most of the route, but because I took a night to sleep on it, I was able to look at this route for itself, rather than for being connected to the common route. First, there are a lot of things that I didn't like about this route... but Haruka is probably one of the best heroines Minori has ever produced, so it is worth noting playing a protagonist who is falling in love with her almost made it worth forgiving them. The path itself is a somewhat twisted romance... but that is to be expected. To be blunt, this protagonist is incapable of having a normal romance without screwing it up (and he still screwed it up a few times this time, as well). Nonetheless, if there was ever a Minori heroine worth having to endure this protagonist's fumbling to fall in love with, it is this one. My fondness for psychologically screwed-up heroines came to the front in my attachment to this path, if you couldn't tell.

That's enough on Haruka, moving on to Mayura's route, then Touwa's (to be honest, I don't really care about either, since I'm wishing Haruka's was the true route now).

Clephas

First off, those who remember my comments on Natsuzora and 12gatsu will remember I mentioned hating Minori games, with the exception of Eden*. The fact is, that I still do hate them, I hate reviewing them, and I hate reading them.

The question is, why?

I keep asking myself this. Minori has really good visual quality, good writers, and decent characters (even if they basically reuse the exact same cast over and over with different appearances and background stories to suit a given VN).

The reason turned out to be very simple... Minori is very good at making the interesting seem mundane in a bad way. To be blunt, if there is one thing I hate, it is mud and blood romantic drama (ie, the Lifetime Movie Network turned VN). Except for with Eden*, where romance wasn't really the focus of the game (though it existed), all of Minori's VNs are basically this type of story with the addition of fantasy. I don't think I've ever come across a VN company that can so consistently make me hate its protagonists in such a personal and intimate manner as I've encountered with Minori.

I have absolutely loathed all of the protagonists, at least on some level (though I wasn't conscious of it until I really went back and thought about it later) of the Minori games I've played besides Eden* and Wind (which I can barely recall at all, lol). All of their protagonists should, logically, be interesting... but with the 'mud and blood romance' that characterizes their stories, they make those interesting aspects into a reason for contempt and mediocrity. Since I get behind a protagonist's eyes when I play, it is like being forced to hate myself, and self-hate isn't exactly a healthy emotion, even when it is vicarious.

What is worse is that all their works after ef have followed this exact basic pattern. I used to have a vague hope they might do something as interesting as Eden* again, but I've more or less been forced to forget that hope as I've slogged through VN after VN by this company. If there is a company that is antithetical to my tastes while achieving partial synchronicity with them, it is this one. I find myself feeling like a hypocrite for hating them, which makes the hate worse, ironically.

I can't even really enjoy the suffering of the characters like I would with an utsuge... because there is always at least one moment where the protagonist makes such a big ass of himself that I want to throw my laptop on the ground and stamp on it in every single one of these things. There is no catharsis for me these games... and the whole reason I go for VNs that stimulate the emotions is because that catharsis is one of the things I seek from VN stories.

*breaths heavily and sighs* Anyway, that is enough raving... understand, this is just an opinion. I really, really hate ef and all the Minori works that are based on the same model. Some are good, some really are awful, despite visual and audio quality, but I hate them all nonetheless. Hearing people praise Minori causes me emotional stress, hearing people say ef is good makes me want to scream, and having people pm to ask me what I think of Minori games other than Eden* makes me want to break something.

PS: Soreyori no Prologue is more of the same so far... protagonist has already made me hate him, and he has only gotten worse since the first turning point of the story.

Clephas

blog-0010798001425800283.jpgTo be honest, my first thought after playing this game was: 'Yeah, this is a Looseboy game.' Needless to say, I don't always consider that a compliment. Looseboy has a tendency to prefer being opaque even where being opaque doesn't really serve all that well, as anyone who played Sharin no Kuni or G-senjou can tell you, if they can bring themselves to discard fanboyism.

Why do I say this? I say it because if I don't manage to get past that particular lump in the throat, I won't be able to properly comment on this VN.

First, this VN, like most Looseboy VNs, starts as a soft school story with a dark undertone that gradually overpowers the rest as the story goes on. This is his style, and anyone who played his previous games will be familiar with the pattern. I will say that this one does it moreso than any of his other VNS, as there is a lot of insanity going around... The mystery of the story is actually fairly hum-drum, though it is more occult-focused than any of his other stories.

Despite the vndb description, there is no battle royale aspect to the story. Rather, it is more intimately involved in the characters emotions, relationships, and conflicts. At the same time, the threat of the 'meeting' is always there in the background and is the source of the sense of lurking horror that infects the story as a whole.

In this VN, Looseboy drags you through the mud of the characters personal flaws and problems, and for those who don't like that type of thing, this is definitely not for you. On the other hand, if you like creepy atmospheres, despair, madness, and human drama, this is probably a good choice for you. It helps that the protagonist is likeable, most of the time, and it is actually understandable that girls would like him (an unusual occurrence in VNs, in general).

My final thoughts...? To be honest, while the last few chapters really did have a lot of impact, the buildup to the core story was a bit too drawn out and there was a bit too much focus on the personal drama, though that was understandable considering the nature of the occult threat. The ending... was ok, but I could have used a solid after-story rather than the five minute after-credit scene that basically says 'maybe we'll be all right'. Considering how much effort Looseboy went to make you care about Rumi and Renji, you'd think he would have had the forethought to give them a more detailed conclusion.

Edit: To clarify, the horror in this VN is mostly psychological, with only a very limited amount of bloodshed. Don't go in expecting guro, in other words.

Clephas

blog-0827495001425627226.jpgKariya Wakana

Wakana is the game's single sub-heroine, who is only accessible after you have finished both parts of Nene's route. It is slightly shorter than the other routes, naturally, and it splits off a lot earlier in the common route.

This route is entirely devoid of the fantastical aspects that were central to the drama of the other paths, setting them aside for standard love-comedy drama. Thankfully, this doesn't include a lot of meaningless ichaicha (in fact, the route ends really quickly after they become lovers). At the same time, Wakana serves as a contrast to the other heroines, in that there is no real sense of severe tension to the story, even temporary, and it ends with no real sense of accomplishment. That's not to say it is a bad route... it is just that it seemed out of place in the context of this VN's themes and story.

Conclusion

I can safely say that this charage is a potential VN of the Month entry, which is nice, considering the lack of such games last month. For those who like Yuzusoft's visual and narration style, as well as charage, this is a great choice. I won't say I can recommend it to people who like action or darker plots, because this lacks anything of the type, despite indications that they could have very easily used this setting that way.

Clephas

blog-0485601001425615843.jpgShiiba Tsumugi

Tsumugi is both a transfer student and the game's reverse trap. That said, she has a definite fondness for cute things, and the way she dresses is a special circumstance, so don't go in thinking she is a boyish heroine. She's actually quite the reverse.

Her path is probably the most focused on the protagonist so far, with an even stronger focus on a certain aspect of the setting that is vital to all the paths. Since I'm avoiding spoilers here, I won't spell it out, especially since it isn't stated in any of the summaries.

Tsumugi's path is well-written, with a surprising lack of excessive ichaicha, mostly because of the sheer difficulty of achieving an 'ichaicha-state' due to her personal problems. At the same time, the romance is surprisingly straightforward and 'normal', which means that you won't run into anything you wouldn't expect from two young people falling in love for the first time, when it comes to their reactions to the purely romantic aspects.

I really liked how they touched more strongly upon parts of the fantasy setting that weren't really explored in the other paths, and the ending is quite satisfying, though - like all the others - the epilogue is still only based a relatively short time after the actual crisis of the story.

Clephas

blog-0003781001425521312.jpgTogakushi Touko

Touko is the 'oneesan-senpai' of the group. She takes pleasure in teasing others, making jokes, and generally maintaining a light atmosphere.

Her path is perhaps the least straightforward so far... mostly because the issues are a bit less than predictable if you aren't used to seeing potential difficulties based upon minimal setting cues. I will say that I did like her as a heroine... but I didn't like her as much as Meguru or Nene. The simple reason for this is that her presence in the common route is so faint, so you don't really get the attachment to her in advance that you get with Meguru or Nene. In fact, I'm fairly sure about seventy percent of the people who read this VN will say 'I liked her path, but I'm not sure if I really got attached to her.' This leads to a definite lack of emotional impact for the crises in the later part of the path, at least in my case.

Look forward to Shiiba Tsumugi, next time!

Clephas

blog-0443955001425457614.jpgInaba Meguru

Meguru is the 'lively and cheerful, puppy-like kouhai' of the story. She is also the most 'fashionable' of the heroines, and the one who is perhaps the most like a 'normal girl' as far as this type of VN goes. The fact that Yuzusoft managed to make her character work is a mark of how high quality their stories are.

I will say that the ichaicha in this one is a lot more tedious than it was in Nene's story, though. A lot of it is that both Meguru and Shuuji are really dense about their own feelings, and they are really slow to progress once they do get together.

The drama in this story is about evenly split between Shuuji's and Meguru's issues, with Meguru's main issue resolved fairly early in the path and the protagonists' issues resolved slowly over the course of the path as a whole. While this is generally nice and the ending is decent... the fact that so much of the story is endless ichaicha kind of made me fall asleep.

Nonetheless, I like Meguru, and her tachie is probably the most well-used besides Nene, who was the main heroine.

Look forward to Togakushi Touko in the next entry!

Clephas

blog-0593386001425368992.jpgCommon

First of all, this is, like most Yuzusoft games, a high-quality charage, though a charage first and foremost. As such, there is definitely a lighter atmosphere than you'd expect, considering the protagonist's personal difficulties and those of the heroines. Problems are resolved quickly and with no real secondary disasters, and they are generally resolved to the satisfaction of the characters involved, if not in the most ideal of manners.

In other words, you won't be reading this VN for superlative story... but what is there is good nonetheless. The characters are interesting, the actual use of the tachie is as brilliant as always (Yuzusoft's tendency to choreograph rapid tachie expression and posture changes into each spoken line is alive and well here and used to extremely good effect), and the crises do have enough emotional impact for you to care to at least a reasonable degree.

Ayachi Nene

Nene's route is... really the main heroine route, to be honest. I was halfway aware of this, but the first meeting between her and the protagonist is so... rofl. I love heroines of her type in charages, so I honestly couldn't bring myself to play anyone else first.

Nene is your basic 'cool and kind-hearted beauty' who has a hidden 'dojikko' side that makes her absolutely adorable. The side-effect of her witch's abilities only makes this part of her personality come out more.

While I was able to easily predict the flow of events leading to the end of the first half of the route, I was nonetheless able to honestly enjoy them. This is rare, because usually charage routes that I can predict this easily don't tend to be able to keep my interest. It says a lot for the basic quality of the game that I could sit back and just enjoy the ride.

The big downside of this route (and probably all the others) is the sheer amount of ichaicha (that state where the heroine and the protagonist are all over each other). Yuzusoft loves their games to be full of this quality and this one is no exception... so for those who just want to pursue a story, this VN is probably not a good choice.

Look forward to Inaba Meguru's route, next time!

Clephas

blog-0141460001425021278.jpgShirataka Sumire

By the time you hit this path, all the VN's secrets will be pretty much revealed, so this isn't a path about revealing secrets. It is simply the path that follows the character most central to the story as a whole. Sumire is the club president of the Lifestyle Club, a club devoted to finding reasons to live, joy in life, etc. She is also perhaps the person who enjoys life the most... and also the one who is the most desperate to do so. I won't spoil it for you, but even after having played the immensely long Tsubame path, this is a path that is worth reading, if only for the two extremely adorable reasons that pop up in the epilogue.

The omake serves to wrap up a lot of loose ends that were probably bothering you (I know they bothered me, since they weren't available when I first played this game), including but not limited to true endings for Miu's, Serika's, and Miyako's routes. You have to finish all the paths, including Sumire's, in order to be able to download the omake from the おまけ section in the extras menu. Of the ten scenarios, four serve as story wrap-ups (Serika's is my favorite, incidentally) and other serve as side-stories for particular characters such as Sakura, the teacher Hotori, or Tsubame's mother Suzume.

Given that this will be the last post on this VN, I feel I should say something about this VN and its endings. For those who want purely good endings, this VN might be hard on you at times. The endings, the paths, all of it is bittersweet. Sorrow, fear, and despair accompany joy, smiles, and love. This really isn't something to fear... but it is one of the reasons why I say this isn't a moege or a charage in the sense that I use the word. Immortality is portrayed primarily for its effects on the human spirit in this VN, and it is portrayed both as an obstacle to and a possibility for happiness, as well as for suffering and despair.

Clephas

blog-0885384001425005109.jpgSerika and Kaname

Serika's and Kaname's routes are two branch-off routes, Serika branching off from Miu's and Kaname branching off from Miyako's. Kaname's has a similar ending to Tsubame's, albeit without the massive infodump of backstory. Serika's is a lot more comical (pretty hilarious) and actually has a 3P H-scene with Miu and Serika (where Miu basically manipulated Serika into it, lol). Serika's definitely goes for comedy, mostly because Serika is a comedy-relief character, though she is the one being teased, whereas Miu is the one doing the teasing, lol. Kaname's route is more serious, a straight-up 'much younger kouhai in love with who she sees as a dashing and awesome senpai' route, combined with the same flow of basic world events that effected the other stories.

Those who played Miu's route will not find any huge surprises in Serika's route, and the same goes for Miyako and Kaname. As such, these are not routes for surprises... but Kaname's route is really about the feels, especially at the end.

Look forward to the final entry, for Tsumire's route.

Kanade.jpg

Clephas

Tsubame.jpg

Haruno Tsubame

Tsubame is the person who has perhaps the most 'normal' reaction to the central conflict of this VN, and for that reason I consider her to be the best representative of 'normal humanity' in this VN (though this VN deliberately doesn't show the stuff happening in the cities, referencing it only obliquely). Emotionally, she rises and falls with a predictability that is reassuring, in comparison to Miu (who is something of a nihilist) and Miyako (who has issues that distract her from what is going on). In this way, her route is something of a compass for those who are interested in what a best-case reaction would be for a regular human girl in this situation. While I don't normally like the genki-type osananajimi archetype, in this case it works.

This path has a ridiculous level of detail, primarily because Tsubame's path is the only one that completely resolves certain issues that you can't help but wonder about on the other paths. (I really hate leaving yall to hang on this, but one of my policies is 'no spoilers', and I can't explain this better without spoilers)

Seriously, bring out your handkerchiefs... because the latter half of this path hits really hard, especially when it comes to the theme of immortality. To be honest, I remembered this path more intensely by far than the other paths in this VN, primarily due to what happens in the second half.

Edit: I should say that Tsubame's path includes the Sakura path (the second half is the Sakura chapter/path, which goes into hers and Sumire's backstory as well as extending the Tsubame path greatly). The two Sakura Chapters make me cry like a small child...

Clephas

Minato%20Miu.jpg

Minato Miu

Miu is one of my favorite types of characters... a character that has two sides to their personality that are so dramatically different that you'd almost think they had a major psychological disorder. Miu's path is focused on taking joy in life in the face of certain death (though it might not seem that way at first). To be blunt, Miu's dere is probably the most hilarious and adorable of all of them. When she goes all lovey-dovey, it is in a fashion that even puts other lolis to shame, even though she is fundamentally shameless (haha). This path is definitely better written than Miyako's, though that is probably because Miu's problems are mostly internalized.

Clephas

The common route of this VN is fairly short, though what is there is pretty strong. It basically establishes the character relationships, the setting, and the characters' personalities. Since this is the role a common route should serve, I have nothing but praise for this one, lol. The character interactions are fairly comical most of the time, and the way it moves into the heroine routes is so natural you almost don't notice (in fact, you aren't supposed to notice with Miyako's route, since there are no choices on the first playthrough).

Konachan.com%20-%20143650%20akizuki_tsukasa%20black_hair%20game_cg%20karasuma_miyako%20long_hair%20panties%20petals%20sakura_sakimashita%20sorahane%20underwear.jpg

Karasuma Miyako

I already described her and all the heroines in the first post, so I'll go ahead and get on with my description of the route. This route is primarily focused on friendship, love, and the bittersweet pain of parting, of being the one leaving others behind and being left behind. Like all the routes in this VN, the 'immortality' theme is lurking in the background, but it is such a common-sense element (it feels so natural) that you almost don't notice it except when they mention it. To be blunt, for the first three routes, you are probably going to be crying... a lot. Miyako's is no exception, and I found myself crying despite myself. Miyako as a heroine is very much the devoted yamato nadeshiko, with a devotion to her beloved that is very deep. In this fashion, she is one of the more 'traditional' heroines of the group, though Tsubame also fills another, slightly different traditional role. Nonetheless, this only helps enhance the route rather than dragging it down.

As a downside, they perhaps drag their feet a little too much at the beginning of the route... but it doesn't hurt things so much that you feel a strong need to complain. There is relatively little filler in this or the other heroine routes, which is very nice for someone who wants to get to the meat of the story.

Clephas

Sakura Sakimashita Part 1

23172.jpg

I'm currently replaying this, a VN by Sorahane. This is not a moege or a charage, despite the packaging. Rather, it is a VN centering around several major themes: life (its meaning), death (immediacy and fear of), and 'immortality'. This is one of the few VNs with an immortality theme that I felt attacked the matter of immortality with something approaching intelligent thought, which gave it a special place in my heart, despite the fact that this is a mediocre company overall (its other two games proved to be fairly boring, though pretty). Basically, in this VN, it is the twenty-third century and science has discovered the way to defeat age and illness through a technology known as 'tokoshie' (means eternity). Everyone (in Japan, anyway) has the right to become tokoshie.

For those who want to know what its story structure is like, it has a set heroine progression going from Miyako>Miyu>Tsubame>Sakura (two chapters)>Kanade>Serika>Sumire.

Miyako is an odd girl who appears cold during school day, but is a warm-hearted girl during the afternoon at night (the reason is pretty rofl, so I won't spoil it). Miyu is a perverted natural loli whose passion is eroge. Tsubame is the genki osananajimi (she has other hidden traits, but that is her first, second, and third impressions). Sakura is a central heroine, the game's one true eternaloli, though I won't spoil her for you. Kanade is Miyako's little sister, an adorable girl who is a great cook, has an inordinate fondness for spicy food, and is something of an amateur artist. Serika is the student council president, who has something of a rival/antagonistic relationship with Sumire. Sumire, the final heroine, is the club president for the Lifestyle Club (which is central to the story) and an outwardly self-indulgent and perverted young woman with an excess of outward enthusiasm.

Look forward to my route analyses in the coming days.

Clephas

From now on, in addition to my forum posts, I will be posting my VN of the Month and Random VN posts here, as well as occasional generalized comments on trends in VNs and the Western VN world in general. Feel free to comment and argue with me, as I welcome constructive (emphasis on that) criticism (in other words, commenting just to be a troll is not welcome). If you feel that my comments on a particular VN don't fit your impression of it, feel free to write a rebuttal in the comments.

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