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Random VN: Bloody Rondo

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Bloody Rondo is 3rdEye's first and arguably their worst game.  By chuunige standards it is very much 'yesteryear' even by the standards of the year it came out, being a 'half-gakuen' type where the protagonist splits his life between school during the day and other stuff at night.    What it comes down to in the end is that this game was, from the very beginning, apologetically derivative and something of a failure primarily due to an attempt to draw on the relative success of Draculius several years before.

First, I'll explain why I say the game attempts to draw on Draculius.  Draculius is probably the best vampire fantasy chuunige/slice-of-life hybrid in existence.  I say this because it doesn't in any way nerf vampiric nature or power, and it also has a rather unique atmosphere that draws on the fantasy familial aspects of the non-undead type of vampire (a vampire that is a lifeform, as opposed to being a dead being forcibly kept alive by magic or evil forces, lol).  The combination of intimacy and hedonistic behavior that you see in that game, as well as the veiled potential for violence and moral ambiguity are subtly presented to the reader interspersed between humorous slice of life and often brutal action scenes.

Bloody Rondo (and Libra) attempt something similar... but fail dramatically in that sense.  Luna, the canon heroine of the game, is a clumsy true vampire (as in trips over her own feet clumsy) with a nonexistent work ethic but a deep capacity for love combined with an incredibly dependent personality.  This in itself wouldn't be a negative and it indeed bears some similarities to Draculius's approach to the cast of characters, but the biggest issue is the utter failure to shift from the humorous elements to the more serious ones properly.  Luna generally only maintains something like dignity for a few minutes at a time before stumbling, and her attempts to maintain it are... spectacularly bad, often lightening the atmosphere at the worst time for the story. 

The path that actually succeeds in reminding the reader of what is best about Draculius is Lynette's path, where the somewhat twisted relationship between her, Luna, and Shinkurou is the focus of things.  Lynette is modeled on Zeno from Draculius in a blatantly obvious fashion (werewolf turned into a hybrid vampire with incredible physical abilities and absolute devotion), and she also serves as an excellent catalyst to turn the three into something resembling a family in her own path.   The unfortunate aspect of this is that it waves the flaws in the 'canon' path in front of the reader so blatantly that you have to wonder why a short path that completely ignores the background story and Shinkurou's own issues works out so much better. 

I will not say this is a bad game... but it stumbles because it never quite manages anything like individuality, despite a good cast of characters and a decent setting.  Anyone who plays this after Sorcery Jokers will instantly get how the writer used his failures with Bloody Rondo to grow and build up the setting he eventually used.  In that sense, this game provides an excellent study in 'before and after' for someone interested in the history of VN writers. 

Shinkurou is actually a great protagonist, but he is damned by a weakness of motivation and a general lack of emotional filling in of the blanks by the writer.  He is skilled, he is intelligent, and he is pragmatic... but the writer fails to capitalize on his personality the way he did with Senri's personality in Sorcery Jokers.  Going back to play this, it is blatantly obvious that Egami Shinkurou is the prototype for Senri... a rough bare-bones character archetype to Senri's full-fleshed individuality. 

Needless to say, this is one of those rare times where I went back and actually felt the game failed in comparison to my distant, years-ago impressions.  Most of the chuunige I go back and play years later have new discoveries waiting for me... but this game is an exception, unfortunately.  Lynette's path is still great, but the weakness of Luna and her failure as a canon/true heroine is painful to read.

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