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VN staff: Shumon Yuu

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Clephas

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I'm going to give you my basic opinion of Shumon Yuu straight up and without embellishment... he is a genius.

I generally am reluctant to call any writer a genius.  I have read thousands of stories - if I include both books and VNs - and I can only name a bare dozen or so authors/writers I can honestly and unequivocally name as geniuses.  Of course, this is a subjective viewpoint... but it is backed up by significant experience, lol.

Shumon Yuu is that rarest of the rare in VN writers/directors... a true artist.  Most decent VN writers have a flair for some aspect of their work, whether it is characterization of a certain type or amusing narrative... but Shumon Yuu goes past that, turning entire VNs into works of art as deep and expressive as any classical piece. 

I'm not talking about him pleasing me on every aspect... several of his VNs lie outside my tastes to one degree or another... but it really doesn't matter when I'm reading one of his works.  It doesn't matter that I don't like a certain character or a certain plot element.  When the VN is complete for the first time, I always feel like something about what I just read ripped deep into me and tore out pieces of my being I hadn't yet known existed, bringing them into the light for me to see.

I have read three VNs he wrote and two he helped plan/design.  The three he wrote are undeniably kamige, with a wide appeal and a unique approach to storytelling (which differs radically with each one) and the two he helped with are first-class VNs.  Chrono-belt, which is the crossover fandisc for Ayakashibito and Bullet Butlers, is such a work of genius at capturing the best of the spirit of those two games that I still get the urge to play it independently at times.  Kikan Bakumatsu Ibun Last Cavalier I named VN of the Year 2015... though that isn't really saying much, considering how bad a year that was (it did have a fascinating take on the Bakumatsu era though).  Tenshi no Hane o Fumanaide was my second game by this writer, and I have played it three times now... each time rediscovering what  made me fall in love the first time.  Kitto, Sumiwataru Asairo yori mo is a work of nakige/utsuge genius that still births new fans even today. 

So why are Shumon Yuu's works primarily known only to people that are a part of the 'in' crowd of veteran untranslated VN readers in the West?  It is probably because his works don't fit precisely into any of the existing/accepted genres, even if they sometimes use elements from them.   You pretty much have to be an omnivorous VN reader to run across him, because it is difficult to impossible to fit any of his VNs into an archetypical aesthetic.  Another reason is that he isn't very productive.  In the past seventeen years, he has been involved with the production of precisely eight VNs...  and he only wrote six of them.  He is also an LN writer, apparently, but he can't really be said to prolific there, either.  So... he tends to fall behind writers who produce something every year and jump at every chance to advertise their own greatness, lol. 

He doesn't get recommended as often or as fiercely as Masada or Higashide, nor does he have the immediate impact of Akatsuki Works' writers.  In fact, even I tend to forget about him (though not his VNs) for years at a time... until I read something he was involved with and begin dancing with glee once again.  His works I never forget, but I frequently forget to follow him, hahaha....

Also, he is a pretty subtle writer, so most people won't pick up on everything he is trying to express in his games on the first playthrough... one of those rare VN writers who gets better as you chew him, lol.

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Chrono-belt, which is the crossover fandisc for Ayakashibito and Bullet Butlers, is such a work of genius at capturing the best of the spirit of those two games that I still get the urge to play it independently at times.

Isn't this primarily a Higashide Yuuishirou work? I haven't read this one yet  and Shumon Yuu has been involved with it in some capacity, it still doesn't look like his style.

Spoiler

So why are Shumon Yuu's works primarily known only to people that are a part of the 'in' crowd of veteran untranslated VN readers in the West?

I think it's that his work is more of requires a special kind of mindset to get into. He is one of these nontraditional writers that you don't really know if it's going to be worth putting so much time reading when your Japanese is still pretty weak. In this case there is even less chance for you to really enjoy his works. Works by Higashide, Masada, Takahama Ryou & Kurashiki Tatsuya, Romeo, and even Ou Jackson, are much more easily identifiable and you know what you're getting into before you dive in.

I avoided Shumon Yuu because I can't understand him and I don't know if he is someone I'll enjoy or is his vns just too deep and smart for my head. That's not to say I will never read him, of course I want to read Itsusora, Kitto, Sumiwataru Asairo Yori mo., and Tenshi no Hane o Fumanaide. But I also don't feel like I'm ready to read him right now, other works seem like they can give me much more immediate gratification and satisfaction thank these vns.

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45 minutes ago, fun2novel said:
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Chrono-belt, which is the crossover fandisc for Ayakashibito and Bullet Butlers, is such a work of genius at capturing the best of the spirit of those two games that I still get the urge to play it independently at times.

Isn't this primarily a Higashide Yuuishirou work? I haven't read this one yet  and Shumon Yuu has been involved with it in some capacity, it still doesn't look like his style.

  Reveal hidden contents

So why are Shumon Yuu's works primarily known only to people that are a part of the 'in' crowd of veteran untranslated VN readers in the West?

I think it's that his work is more of requires a special kind of mindset to get into. He is one of these nontraditional writers that you don't really know if it's going to be worth putting so much time reading when your Japanese is still pretty weak. In this case there is even less chance for you to really enjoy his works. Works by Higashide, Masada, Takahama Ryou & Kurashiki Tatsuya, Romeo, and even Ou Jackson, are much more easily identifiable and you know what you're getting into before you dive in.

I avoided Shumon Yuu because I can't understand him and I don't know if he is someone I'll enjoy or is his vns just too deep and smart for my head. That's not to say I will never read him, of course I want to read Itsusora, Kitto, Sumiwataru Asairo Yori mo., and Tenshi no Hane o Fumanaide. But I also don't feel like I'm ready to read him right now, other works seem like they can give me much more immediate gratification and satisfaction thank these vns.

He was an advisor on Chrono Belt and Bakumatsu... don't know precisely what capacity he worked on them in though.  If I had to guess, he was probably hired for his ability to utilize his ability to put disparate 'puzzle pieces' together to create a better whole.  Both Chrono Belt and Bakumatsu were so... consistent, despite the difficulty of dealing with so many different elements.  In particular, I was surprised at how well Bakumatsu's varying paths fit into the setting and altered the history in interesting ways that also made sense.  If I had to guess, he probably had a hand in that.

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Shumon Yuu is probably my favorite writer and Asairo my favorite vn, the capacity to mix and switch genres combined with the depth characterization and settings is something we not see every day and he excels in that. Another strong point in his works is how all components(art, music and writing) are used to make a whole scene, trough it's not possible to see that in all games cause of budget restrictions, Asairo is a good exemple of that with  litte to nothing cgs wasted.

I think that the accessibility of her works are the main point that don't make he shine more in the west, how he play with the words, the kanji puns, info dumps and writing style make a high japanese level work, someone not too experienced with the language could easily get lost in some parts. How his works are mix genre/genreless is something that could repel some people too, like Itsusora that judging by the brand, chara designs and common route seems like a moege but then with a crazy spin we have norse epic battle running.

 

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1 hour ago, Norleas said:

like Itsusora that judging by the brand, chara designs and common route seems like a moege but then with a crazy spin we have norse epic battle running.

 

I heard about that. Is every route turns into what you described or is just one of the routes or something?

My friend played Tenshihane for example, and he says the vn has two halves. One side is the usual charage thing, but if you pick the other side it totally turns chuuni. One part sounded very exciting to me, while the other made me not want to read it.

Edit: fixed some typos.

Edited by fun2novel

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17 minutes ago, fun2novel said:

I heard about that. Is every route turns into what you described or is just one of the routes or something?

My friend played Tenshihane for example, and he says the vn has two halves. On side is the usual character thing, but if you pick the other side it totally turns chuuni.

All 3 routes have the battle running and are relevant to the history, the only difference is how insane is the battle (vs a tank or Gungnir, for exemple).

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5 hours ago, fun2novel said:

I heard about that. Is every route turns into what you described or is just one of the routes or something?

My friend played Tenshihane for example, and he says the vn has two halves. One side is the usual charage thing, but if you pick the other side it totally turns chuuni. One part sounded very exciting to me, while the other made me not want to read it.

Edit: fixed some typos.

The VN has two sides, both of which are relevant to the true ending.  The Sun side is more peaceful, but it isn't a slice-of-life fest... there is no wasted time or reading in either path.  Everything is vital to building the story.  The Moon path is darker, because of the nature of the Moon side of the school (sorcery instead of miracles) and the situation there (which is pretty... grim).  The nature of the heroines also differs wildly between the two... for better or worse, Mitsu and Hikaru (the two heroines in the Sun path) represent the soft side of human nature, whereas the other side represents the hard side of humanity.

The Moon side does have a definite 'chuuni' side to it, but it feels a lot like Higashide's stuff in some ways, with a more subtle touch.  You are intended to play the Sun side first, because it makes the impact of the Moon side and the true ending all the stronger, enhancing the experience through Ayame's eyes.

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