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Anniversary 2017


Clephas

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Well, the fourth anniversary of my VN of the Month series of posts is coming in another week or so... and to be honest, I'm a bit amazed at how long I've kept this going.  Four years of playing most of the non-nukige VNs that came out each month, writing something on them, then picking one to be VN of the Month (or not, if none met my standards)... to be honest, my opinion hasn't changed much since the last time this time of year came around.  VN of the Month is one of the single most grueling tasks I've ever set myself outside of work, and I can honestly say that there are a lot of times when I just want to put it all aside. 

However, I inevitably find myself coming back and playing more VNs.  If I take a week off from VNs, I inevitably tear back into my addiction with insane glee, and it usually at least takes three or four bad VNs before I finally run down and need a recharge. 

I thought about making a poll asking if I should stop, like I did the other years... but the results - and the suggestions - are always the same, so I'm really more interested in what people have to say about this whole thing.

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I try to observe active VN reviewers and I must say that noone of them is reviewing fresh untranslated works - only random past works. Joyjason used to investigate couple works he liked monthly, but he's been on hiatus for about three months and now seems to be posting irregularly.

There used to be such culture for some time in early 2010s. For example, I was totally astonished by the number of English reviews of Flyable Hears after its release. It's an insane quantity for an untranslated work.

Anime and VNs have the same source of inspiration. It's my firm belief that anime gets only better witch each new season and so do VNs. Time dimension is the best way to look at new works since this way you get an organized material and only this way you know that nothing is missing. Just looking at big works creates a sense of uneasiness, but looking also at smaller works and noticing why they are bad is much more satisfying. And playing only localized works is a dead end anyway. So great job in both reviewing and organizing community effort for leftover works that you can't process alone. Much appreciation to Dergonu!

Edited by kivandopulus
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Guest An unconditional reader

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Hello,

First, pardon my poor English.

Your reviews and comments are, for me and a lot of people (much more than only those registered on this forum I believe) very important, unique. Reviews by Japanese in Japanese could do for some of us... though I've to say Japanese are very poor at reviewing (not in their culture as I'm sure you know) and you seem, to my knowledge, to be the only regular good reviewer on fresh (and less so) titles.

You also are very dedicated / give very educated information on a lot of subjects you know are important. Here a few examples :
 - who else really tells about the level of Japanese needed (when you feel a comment is needed) ?
 - who else really takes the time to re-read a whole series when you feel you need it to judge a new title ?
 - who else, if you feel it is needed when encountering a new title of a specific brand, takes the time to post about the brand so that we can know what other titles of this brand are worth, but also what the new title is worth compared to them ?
 - who else takes the time to analyse the VN's market in terms of quality and type of content to further help us choose what to read (like you did when you told us of the golden era) ?
 - who else reads quick enough to be able to read so much titles and then give us a better educated point of view ?
 - etc.

English VN readers come on Fuwanovel for VNTS ? Japanese VN readers, when not native Japanese, might come for you reviews, as I do.

Once and for all : you do something really important for some people. Who cares if you are even a few months late (according to your rules) on a review ? As long as I can read you on your blog sometime, I'm happy.

Thanks Clephas (and Dergonu).

An (unregistered) unconditional reader from Europe

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Would you be surprised if I told you your blog was my personal favorite? :)

And it's not just for the sheer uniqueness of your review format, but your review quality as well. I appreciate how you avoid fluffing up your reviews with excessive text all while giving detailed insight on the plot, aesthetics, and characters. But what really stands out to me is the audience you chose to provide your reviews for. If you wanted to, you could very easily become more mainstream and write these reviews for a Japanese audience instead, which I think speaks volumes about your review ethic.

I've always been, and still kinda am, concerned with how much of a toll this project takes on you, so it's a bit of a relief to know that your enthusiasm for the medium hasn't completely died down yet. I do hope you're able to maintain that passion for a long time further.

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53 minutes ago, Kenshin_sama said:

Would you be surprised if I told you your blog was my personal favorite? :)

And it's not just for the sheer uniqueness of your review format, but your review quality as well. I appreciate how you avoid fluffing up your reviews with excessive text all while giving detailed insight on the plot, aesthetics, and characters. But what really stands out to me is the audience you chose to provide your reviews for. If you wanted to, you could very easily become more mainstream and write these reviews for a Japanese audience instead, which I think speaks volumes about your review ethic.

I've always been, and still kinda am, concerned with how much of a toll this project takes on you, so it's a bit of a relief to know that your enthusiasm for the medium hasn't completely died down yet. I do hope you're able to maintain that passion for a long time further.

I just keep a few things in mind while I'm writing VN reviews... maintain objectivity inasmuch as possible without ignoring the realities of writing an opinion.  Don't spoil stuff that isn't already spoiled on the official site.  Write about the VN as soon after you finish it as possible. 

The rest is just basic writing that anyone can learn to do if they read enough.

I could write in Japanese... but I don't have the right perspective or instincts.  My writing here is ultimately from the point of view of a Western (or just non-Japanese) otaku, and my obsessions come from different places than a Japanese reader's would. While I'm sure some might take an interest, those that did would probably not be able to understand where I'm coming from, just as I can only really hypothesize based on my interactions with Japanese and knowledge of Japanese culture both new and old. 

I mean, even small things like our attitudes toward food differ... in the US, a large portion of the population bases their idea of a 'meal' around the protein (meat, beans, eggs, tofu, etc) involved with it.  However, most Japanese base it around the carbohydrate at the center of the meal (rice, noodles, or bread) with other parts of the meal (okazu) literally as 'sides'.  Logically, by studying history I can easily extrapolate that this is because Japan experienced a starvation economy based primarily off of grains (primarily rice) until well after the end of WWII.  However, this doesn't mean I understand at a gut-level, lol. 

It is all socialization... and later-age socialization and logical extrapolation have their limits.  I'm always finding new things out about modern culture when I read VNs and novels in Japanese, as well as read the news. 

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14 hours ago, Clephas said:

I could write in Japanese... but I don't have the right perspective or instincts.  My writing here is ultimately from the point of view of a Western (or just non-Japanese) otaku, and my obsessions come from different places than a Japanese reader's would. While I'm sure some might take an interest, those that did would probably not be able to understand where I'm coming from, just as I can only really hypothesize based on my interactions with Japanese and knowledge of Japanese culture both new and old. 

Oh, I see. I was under the impression that your proficiency in reading and translation was all you really needed; I hadn't quite considered the cultural differences when communicating from a different background. I guess it's fundamentally different from learning English, where grammar and future tense are the main obstacles. So even if you are capable of reading Japanese quickly and have a firm understanding of its grammar (which doesn't seem that difficult to master), there's still a ways to go in order to overcome the language barrier. So I guess the only real way to gain that proficiency is to spend a lot of time in Japan, which might not be all it's cracked up to be.

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9 hours ago, Kenshin_sama said:

Oh, I see. I was under the impression that your proficiency in reading and translation was all you really needed; I hadn't quite considered the cultural differences when communicating from a different background. I guess it's fundamentally different from learning English, where grammar and future tense are the main obstacles. So even if you are capable of reading Japanese quickly and have a firm understanding of its grammar (which doesn't seem that difficult to master), there's still a ways to go in order to overcome the language barrier. So I guess the only real way to gain that proficiency is to spend a lot of time in Japan, which might not be all it's cracked up to be.

Conversation isn't a problem... but America raises its kids in a fundamentally different environment. 

Understand, when you are writing, you have to aim your text at the chosen audience.  I understand Japanese about as perfectly as possible for someone who wasn't born speaking it... but that doesn't mean I feel exactly the same when I think in Japanese as a Japanese person would.  I was also not socialized from my childhood as a Japanese person, so my knee-jerk reactions on any number of topics differ, despite the alteration in consciousness I experience when I am reading or speaking Japanese.  I can see through a set of hybrid lenses, but it isn't possible for someone not born there to see things through a purely Japanese point of view. 

If I were willing to spend hours composing each review and adjusting it to a Japanese audience, I might be able to make a popular review blog directed to Japanese people... but to do that on top of playing the VNs I already do would be just too exhausting.  Most of my reviews here are the products of my natural flow of thoughts as I played, combined with hindsight and a number of other factors.   By the time I'm done with the VN, I usually have the substance of the review in place inside my skull, and all I have to do is put words to it.  However, my reviews here probably wouldn't please a Japanese otaku audience if I rewrote them as-is in Japanese.

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Ah, I think I get it now. Would it also have something to do with their xenophobic tendencies towards foreigners reading visual novels? Normally I wouldn't think it was that bad getting to read a VN review given from a foreign perspective, but after mulling over what Sanah wrote about Dual Tail's response to the Venus Blood -Hypno- bug and the "For sale in Japan only" marketing, I think I can sort of guess at why they might not be interested.

At the same time though, I can understand if it's just a general disconnect. I remember how, initially, Trevor Noah wasn't the most popular replacement for John Stewart, which I think was partially due to the disconnect older viewers had with him being an outsider (millennials seemed to love him, though). Granted, he has gained a lot of momentum since then, but it felt like he had to make a few leaps to adjust his act for an American audience.

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19 hours ago, Kenshin_sama said:

Ah, I think I get it now. Would it also have something to do with their xenophobic tendencies towards foreigners reading visual novels? Normally I wouldn't think it was that bad getting to read a VN review given from a foreign perspective, but after mulling over what Sanah wrote about Dual Tail's response to the Venus Blood -Hypno- bug and the "For sale in Japan only" marketing, I think I can sort of guess at why they might not be interested.

At the same time though, I can understand if it's just a general disconnect. I remember how, initially, Trevor Noah wasn't the most popular replacement for John Stewart, which I think was partially due to the disconnect older viewers had with him being an outsider (millennials seemed to love him, though). Granted, he has gained a lot of momentum since then, but it felt like he had to make a few leaps to adjust his act for an American audience.

I don't think the fans care if non-Japanese play it.  That's a company issue.  No, the real issue is that what a Japanese otaku seeks from VNs and sees in them is different, sometimes greatly, sometimes subtly.  I once introduced a Japanese friend to the Malazan Book of the Fallen and got a completely different viewpoint from any of the positive or negative reviews here.   Some of the things we take for granted make no sense to Japanese people, and some of the things they take for granted make no sense to Westerners.  I process most of the latter rather easily now, but they aren't a part of my basis for analysis when I'm reviewing VNs unless I make an effort to make them so. 

Edit: Also, one of the main reasons corps are so wary of gaijin audiences is because of the lolicon issue...  After the Rapelay controversy, Japanese companies basically got paranoid about avoiding becoming the center of a similar storm.

Edited by Clephas
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