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Clephas' list of high-quality writers: Tier One

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Clephas

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I think we can all agree I've read a lot of VNs. *waits for audience laughter with a smile*

*looks sad when the audience laughter recording doesn't work*

Anyway, over the years I've encountered a lot of writers.  Some were mediocre, others were decent, yet others were good... and some were just great.

I decided to list the writers I honestly think have a lot of talent and whose works are something we, as VN fans, should at least keep an eye on.  Tier One presents writers who are 'masters of their craft', to the point where they can be put onto a pedestal with few qualms. 

My list:

Hino Wataru- Hino Wataru is Akatsuki Works' primary writer.  His bad habits include a tendency toward overuse of line repetition (like 'soredemo, to' in Comyu and 'norowareta sekai' in Ruitomo) and an absolute adoration for hedge philosophy themes in each VN he writes.  However, if you can endure his quirks, his raw writing is actually really high quality, and he does have a serious talent for scenario construction.  It's just too bad that you can tell how he favors his heroines based on their path length and closeness to the 'true' heroine.

Masada Takashi- Now, the first thing that comes to mind to any of us when we hear 'Masada' is the famous/infamous VN Dies Irae.  For chuuni fans and fans of elaborate prose, Dies Irae is a drug more powerful than heroin.  For people who want prose to be straightforward and easy to understand, it is pure poison.  His adoration for the use of phrasing rarely utilized in modern prose, flowery descriptions, and poetic phrasing have also made him one of the most impossible writers to translate, though.  His preference is for grandiose settings, 'archetypical characters escaping their archetypes', and over the top plot twists.  He is surprisingly good at avoiding giving away future story developments to the reader, and his most brilliant characters are usually the antagonists of the story, rather than the protagonists or the heroines.  He is also a first-class master of the art of presentation.

Kurashiki Tatsuya and Takahama Ryou- These guys are what I like to call the 'Masada Fanboys'.  Their prose, their scenario and setting construction, and even the cadence of their poetry is all an imprint of Masada.   For those unfamiliar with Light's works, Kurashiki Tatsuya was the scenario writer for Maggot Baits (which had unbelievably good prose outside of the torture/sex scenes) and Takahama Ryou was one of Izumo 4's writers.  While their writing shows off a rather obvious obsession with Masada's works, that doesn't seem to keep them from writing enormously enjoyable stories and characters.  The biggest difference between them and Masada is that they tend to place more of an emphasis on the protagonist and heroines than Masada does (as Masada is a master of the 'supreme antagonist' as is evidenced by Amakasu, Reinhardt, Mercurius, and Hajun).  Evidence of this is Vermilion, Electro Arms, Zero Infinity, and Silverio Vendetta, all of which were VNs that were defined almost entirely by the protagonist and/or the heroines. 

Kinugasa Shougo- The writer of Akatsuki no Goei (the series) and Reminiscence (the series), Kinugasa Shougo is perhaps best known for his character-based situational comedy, despite having a surprising flair for building a setting.  He has an inordinate fondness for dystopian settings and characters who are either amoral or outright villainous.  Kaito in Akatsuki no Goei is perhaps one of the most amoral protagonists I've ever come across, possessing a capacity for directed brutality that I've found nearly unmatched in VNs combined with an arrogance that causes endless hilarity throughout the VNs involving him.  However, this writer does have one huge flaw... he loves leaving things unfinished and/or to your imagination.  He never concludes his stories, and things almost never have a 'happily ever after' feeling to them after he gets done with them.

Takaya Aya- Perhaps one of the most versatile writers on this list, Takaya Aya is Caramel Box's primary writer, having been responsible for many first-class VNs, including Semiramis no Tenbin, Komorebi no Nostalgica, Shuumatsu Shoujo Gensou Alicematic, Otoboku 2, and Kikan Bakumatsu Ibun Last Cavalier.  He is absolutely brilliant at creating empathetic characters and pulling the reader into their situations.  He can do chuunige, slice-of-life comedy, nakige, and even a dark social commentary.

Higashide Yuuichirou- Like Masada, Higashide Yuuichirou is/was (he is retired) primarily a chuunige writer and was Propeller's main writer until 2011.  Unlike Masada, he specializes in a more 'standard' version of the hero.  His protagonists are designed to inspire, his writing is full of humor (both standard manzai and self-effacing), and he has a mastery of catharsis that Masada simply doesn't possess.  To be honest, I've only come across a few writers that can balance so many elements in a single literary work without having it all fall apart, and his works don't lose their flavor after multiple playthroughs.

Takehaya- Takehaya is a master of catharsis, the creating of characters, settings, and scenarios that can draw out the emotions of the reader, forcing them into an emotional release despite themselves.  All of his best works - from utsuge Konakana to the more recent Rakuen no Shugosha - rip into your heart and force you to make a place for the characters there.  There are few writers out there that can do what he does, but I can't help but wish there were.

Morisaki Ryouto- Morisaki Ryouto is a challenger for Takaya Aya in terms of versatility, capable of writing nakige, charage, hard sci-fi, chuunige fantasy (Fate/Hollow Ataraxia) and even heavy eros.  While he isn't as brilliant as Takaya as a writer, he does have a gift for adapting himself to the genre he is writing, and it is always worth it to at least try anything he writes, even if the genre itself turns out not to suit your tastes.

Shumon Yuu- Shumon Yuu is something of an enigma.  He occasionally appears in the VN industry (every three years or so) and puts out a VN that is artistically brilliant (in the general sense) and possesses depths that are almost impossible to fully plumb in a single playthrough.  Every VN he has put out since he hit his stride with Itsuka Todoku has been a kamige.  He is also a light novel writer.  He is brilliant at portraying both suffering and joy, drawing you into the setting and characters while presenting them in their best lights.  If there is a writer in the VN industry I can say unequivocally is a genius, he is it.

 

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Nice list. I'm still holding off on reading the works of a lot of those guys due to my reading skills not being entirely up to snuff, but I'm absolutely looking forward to the day that I can.

One thing I haven't seen you comment on (though maybe you have somewhere) is how you feel about the general level of VN writers vs. that of mainstream writers (Anime/LN/etc).

One of the main reasons I personally got into VNs is that I was shocked to find so much awesome content that you'll never find in the general anime world due to mainstream writers lacking either the guts or inspiration to tell genuinely bold and unique stories with more mature elements. But having said that, I'm not yet qualified to judge whether VN writers are actually "better" or just happen to use ideas that appeal to me much more than mainstream anime/LN stuff.

What do you think? Is the VN world a place for unrecognized geniuses to foster their talent unrestricted by mainstream constraints, or just a mediocre field that happens to have ideas you can't generally find elsewhere?

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28 minutes ago, Valduran said:

Nice list. I'm still holding off on reading the works of a lot of those guys due to my reading skills not being entirely up to snuff, but I'm absolutely looking forward to the day that I can.

One thing I haven't seen you comment on (though maybe you have somewhere) is how you feel about the general level of VN writers vs. that of mainstream writers (Anime/LN/etc).

One of the main reasons I personally got into VNs is that I was shocked to find so much awesome content that you'll never find in the general anime world due to mainstream writers lacking either the guts or inspiration to tell genuinely bold and unique stories with more mature elements. But having said that, I'm not yet qualified to judge whether VN writers are actually "better" or just happen to use ideas that appeal to me much more than mainstream anime/LN stuff.

What do you think? Is the VN world a place for unrecognized geniuses to foster their talent unrestricted by mainstream constraints, or just a mediocre field that happens to have ideas you can't generally find elsewhere?

When VNs began to stagnate about seven years ago, most of the innovators started popping up in LNs rather than VNs, because it was relatively cheap/easy for someone to self-produce them.  The downside is that corporate backing goes mainly to writers who manage to make a hit on their own or have mainstream appeal, so it is still a high hurdle that involves a lot of luck.

To be honest, it is hard to gauge a VN writer based on standard literary merit, simply because a lot of them are also in on the presentation and other elements of the game (the best of them).  Purely as a writer, I'm unsure if I'd recommend Masada if he was writing text-only.  Why?  Because without the visuals and music, poetic writing drives me insane.  Similarly Hino Wataru, who utilizes sound, voice, and visuals effectively to emphasize the points he wants emphasized, helping create his story.

It is actually a lot easier to to read someone like Shumon Yuu or Takehaya as a standard author, because they are less reliant on the non-text aspects for creating emphasis and atmosphere. 

When it comes down to it, it is incredibly difficult to compare a VN as a literary work to your standard book, simply because it has so many varied elements that had to come together to make it work.

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48 minutes ago, Clephas said:

When VNs began to stagnate about seven years ago, most of the innovators started popping up in LNs rather than VNs, because it was relatively cheap/easy for someone to self-produce them.  The downside is that corporate backing goes mainly to writers who manage to make a hit on their own or have mainstream appeal, so it is still a high hurdle that involves a lot of luck.

To be honest, it is hard to gauge a VN writer based on standard literary merit, simply because a lot of them are also in on the presentation and other elements of the game (the best of them).  Purely as a writer, I'm unsure if I'd recommend Masada if he was writing text-only.  Why?  Because without the visuals and music, poetic writing drives me insane.  Similarly Hino Wataru, who utilizes sound, voice, and visuals effectively to emphasize the points he wants emphasized, helping create his story.

It is actually a lot easier to to read someone like Shumon Yuu or Takehaya as a standard author, because they are less reliant on the non-text aspects for creating emphasis and atmosphere. 

When it comes down to it, it is incredibly difficult to compare a VN as a literary work to your standard book, simply because it has so many varied elements that had to come together to make it work.

Hmm yeah. It's certainly true in that sense that VNs as a medium are hard to compare with text-only mediums, but maybe Anime and Manga less so? That aside, I guess more what I'm referring to when I talk about quality writing isn't so much the ability to put pretty words on a page but the ability to craft brilliant story from start to finish using ideas in a way that stands head and shoulders above the crowd--that is the ability to "own" an idea rather than just "use" it. To give the reader's imagination an experience that they associate more with your name as a creator than they do with the genre that spawned it. To allow them to meet characters who come alive in ways that they'll not be likely to forget.

Very few mainstream LN and anime writers seem to do this (Urobuchi Gen is one of the few that comes to mind). I can't speak for LNs as a whole because I haven't really explored heavily in that direction, so in this case I'm more or less judging based on the ideas contained in LNs that end up getting anime adaptations--which is far more than the number of VNs that get adaptations. Most of what I see is regurgitated variations on the same ideas that weren't all that great to begin with (admittedly for that reason I'm not really one to touch charage in VNs either lol).

In short, I guess I personally judge genius based primarily on "quality and coherence of ideas", which are concepts that kinda transcend medium. So I guess my question more accurately would be phrased as: "Are VN writers/directors often better story-craftsmen as a whole than their counterparts in the LN or Anime industries? Or are we hardcore VN fans just more forgiving of mediocre writing due to the more engaging nature of the medium with all of it's elements combined?"

I personally think VNs are utterly brilliant as an art form, but I'm curious to know just how much of that should be credited to "brilliant creative masterminds" as opposed to just my general appreciation for the medium as a whole with it's triple-impact combination of Prose, Audio, and Visuals and the oft-times more mature nature of the ideas contained within.

Edited by Valduran

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My list of notables (not to be taken as exclusive, they're just names which I have seen enough of to know for certain, are capable of doing interesting or well-crafted stuff):
Shumon Yuu pretty much makes you go wow. Even if his style of humour exasperates me to no end.
Takaya Aya is a hella versatile and generally intelligent.
Lucle (only data point is 紙の上の魔法使い, but that was skillfully told and put together in a way an average writer definitely could not do)
Hodaka Nozomu (Enjoy his prose. He likes to write short stories which just entrance you with their atmosphere.)

Doujin friends
ts_tassan: Generally knows what he's doing, but always pursuing his own style. I think he stands out most for how good he as at handling teenage girl characters (Can see in 魔法少女, and also in the old novel he has posted on his website).

Though, life is too short to just follow these authors.

Edited by Chronopolis

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