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Commentary on Hino Wataru's chuunige



Over the last few weeks, I've gone back through all of the chuunige Hino Wataru was responsible for, and I came up with a number of common points that exist in each of his games, that define his overall style.  At the same time, I thought I'd also mention why I usually recommend Comyu to people despite the translation being such a disaster.

Hino Wataru patterns

Hino Wataru has a number of unique patterns that define his style of writing chuunige (some of it spills over into his SOL games, which I plan to replay soon as well).  Here, I will describe these patterns and why they are unique in modern non-nukige VNs.

First, every Hino Wataru game has at least one major character (antagonist, protagonist, main character, or heroine) who is sexually open or strongly driven by their sexual impulses to the point of being out of control.  In Ruitomo, it was the infamous predatory lesbian Atori.  In Hello, Lady, Narita Shinri is himself the one with the overdriven libido.  In Comyu, both Haru and Akihito can be considered to be of this type, albeit for opposite sexes.  Shizuku (a major antagonist in Suisei Ginka) is pretty much a bisexual succubus.  Akeno Shuri himself in Hi ga Nai is the sexually amoral one.   (incidentally, the first complaint most people have about Akihito from Comyu is that he is a cheating man-whore... but I always figured they were just being prudes)

Second, every Hino Wataru chuunige has some kind of internal catchphrase (sometimes multiple ones) that plays a vital part in the thought processes of the protagonist.  In Ruitomo, it is 'we are cursed'.  In Comyu, it is 'koko wa yasashii oukoku' and 'soredemo, to'.  In Hello, Lady it is 'Nasu beki koto o nasudarou.'.  Generally speaking, these phrases are often loaded with multiple meanings or meanings that are unconventional.  Unfortunately, these phrases and a lot of Hino Wataru's other wordgames just don't translate at all, which is one of the reasons why Comyu's translation comes across as flat or awkward. 

Third, a lot (not all) of his chuunige involve a group of characters forced together because of circumstance that never quite get over that first awkwardness.  The heroines of Hello, Lady never really settle down around Shinri.   Ruitomo's group of friends are constantly on the verge of being at one another's throats over one thing or another.  Comyu's main cast has so many conflicting personalities it is a miracle they don't kill one another (literally). 

Hino Wataru loves to philosophize.  All of his chuunige protagonists philosophize or have a moral policy that is slightly or completely out of sync with conventional morality.  Narita is capable of valuing life deeply while taking the lives of others ruthlessly for the sake of his goals.  Akihito is ruthless at times, excessively soft on women, and actively prioritizes those close to him over what is right.  It goes on.


During my recent replay of Comyu, I was reminded again of why I stopped playing VNs in English.  I played the patched version of Comyu shortly after it came out, out of curiosity... and it was enough to put me off playing translates games entirely for years after.  A lot of this has to do with elements of Hino Wataru's style that just don't translate well, so it can't be said to the translator's fault entirely... 

As such, it always screws with me when people nitpick the translation then use it to bash the game itself.  Calling Akihito a man-whore is fine, but using that as a reason not to like the game always struck me as stupid, since he has a lot more stuff to him that makes him interesting. 

Anyway, down to the nuts and bolts... 

Comyu, as anyone who has played it knows, suffers because of the way the paths are locked at the beginning.  To be blunt, nobody who plays the game likes Benio as a heroine.  She is naive, her personality is incompatible with what is going on, and, though she serves as a perfect opposite to Isawa, that doesn't get around the fact that her naivete is frequently annoying.  As a side-character, she is excellent, but, like Ruitomo, forcing you to play the least interesting heroine first doesn't make for a good start.

Hisoka's path benefits from being highly emotional... Hisoka's situation is a tear-jerker, and the way you are introduced to it is ideal for ripping your heart out and serving it back to you on a plate.  It has one bad, one normal, and one 'sort of good' ending...  However, it is also much bloodier and darker than Benio's path, providing a strong contrast.

Mayuki's path is significantly more light-hearted and SOL-focused than the previous two paths, but it too has a number of strongly emotional moments.  It has one bad and one good ending and only one major fight.

Now we come to Kagome's path (Ayaya's not being worth mentioning).  Kagome is, very obviously from the beginning, the true heroine of the game.  She and Akihito are inseparable in all the paths, and the one thing she never does is abandon him.  This path reveals the 'area behind the stage' in its entirely, and as a result, it is exponentially more bloody than all the other paths combined.  Kagome's own truths are about as dark as they come, and all the characters are pushed to their very limits, many of them dying in the process. 

Kagome is one of the major reasons I come back to this game on occasion.  She is also the heroine who sparked my recognition of the phenomenon of the 'absolutely connected' heroine (the type of heroine who is so close to the protagonist that she is still by his side in all the paths, unless she dies).  Not to mention she is the only heroine I've ever encountered who honestly loves the protagonist to the point of being truly deredere and yet has a semi-permanent sneer/contemptuous smile on her face (I consider her to the ultimate spiky tsundere).  Well, she is also truly contemptuous of him... it just doesn't get in the way of her loving him.


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