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My attitude toward moege/charage


Clephas

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Since most of the people who read my blog at all are probably already aware of this, I'm not going to hide the fact that moege/charage aren't my favorite sector of the VN industry.  I see VNs in general as a storytelling medium first and a visual art third or fourth, so the overfocus on visual elements that defines 'true moege' and the inevitable inconsistencies and storytelling incompetence in charage can be pretty irritating for me. 

That said, I have and do enjoy some charage/moege.  Ones like Nekopara, that are cute and over relatively quickly, can actually be an enjoyable bit of relaxation, and the best charage - such as Lovesick Puppies or the various Alcot comedy-focused VNs - can be truly amusing to read.  However, there are some things I can't stand about some charage...

One of the most annoying aspects of charage is the tendency to go to a lot of trouble to build an interesting setting for the heroines or protagonist... and then either fail to utilize it as part of the characters' story, underuse it, or 'change their minds' because it is inconvenient for a particular heroine path.  This is a complaint those of you who read my blog or have read my blog have probably heard before.  To be blunt 'if you build it, at least use it well' is my attitude toward efforts at building a setting.  Give the protagonist a tragic past and psychological scars?  Then you should make his healing a part of the story of the heroine paths.  Give the heroine a major issue/problem that is a fundamental part of her life and she can't resolve on her own?  Please don't insult my intelligence by resolving it in ten seconds with no real drama whatsoever.  This is a pet peeve of mine that drives me up the wall, and when I come across charage that actually manage to break past this kind of failure, I am generally happy to praise them up one side and down the other.

An excess of random (and I do really mean random) h-scenes used in place of character development in a heroine path.  Now, let me tell you that it is quite possible to utilize an h-scene as a part of character development.  Alcot in particular favors this technique and it is the primary reason why I read all their h-scenes (actually, this habit annoys me, as I normally skip h-scenes).  There is absolutely nothing wrong with using an h-scene to develop a character... in fact, VNs like Vermilion, Jingai Makyou, Uruwashi no, and Dies Irae actually have h-scenes that are used to further develop the characters.  However, h-scenes that take the place of telling the characters' story are an occasional bad habit that pops up in about one third of all charage.  Yes, eroge characters tend to be like randy monkeys when they cross the line into loverhood... but that isn't an excuse for ignoring further character development entirely. 

Ichaicha.  Now, the concept of 'ichaicha' is so fundamental to Japanese romance in VNs that it is unavoidable even in many more serious games.  I honestly don't have a problem with it... in reasonable amounts.  However, there is a phase in about two-thirds of all moege/charage where there is literally nothing but this!!!  If it were spaced out a bit with more story progression and/or character development (in the case of moege/charage dealing with the heroines' and/or the protagonist's personal issues) it really would never be a problem.  Unfortunately, the 'endless dating phase' can often be interminably long... does anyone really want to suffer through eight dates (frequently to the same places and with no real change in the events involved) for each heroine?

That said, charage do have a lot to offer.  There are some seriously well-designed and written ones out there that actually tackle all the issues introduced as part of the story.  Lovesick Puppies was one of those, and there are yet others who take the setting and run with it such as Suzukaze and Maikaze (a game and fandisc) by Whirlpool.  I honestly have to applaud when a VN focused almost entirely on the characters manages to fully utilize a reasonably well-designed setting.  Consistency isn't always necessary in a charage (in fact, it is frequently ignored), but a charage that actually manages to keep the individual routes consistent with the base setting is more attractive than one that doesn't, generally speaking.  For all that charage are composed almost entirely of tropes and archetypes in most cases, I can forgive that if they manage to do so in a way that is pleasing and makes sense without being excessively trite. 

What does all of this come down to?  A good game is a good game even if it is a charage or a moege, and a kusoge is a kusoge even if it is one of my beloved chuunige.  I could go on to name a half-dozen chuunige that are so terrible I don't even want to recall them as a demonstration, but I'm sleepy, so I'm going to leave it at this.

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I suppose most of the VN customers in Japan do not buy them regularly, like one per month of something. Otherwise, I can't understand how someone wouldn't be tired of all the ichaicha (or maybe that's why the industry is declining more and more every year)

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