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Shining Song Starnova (Western VN Review)

Plk_Lesiak

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Love in Space, authors of the highly-appreciated Sunrider series, are a very peculiar kind of EVN developer. In their games, they unapologetically cater to weeaboo sensitivities, copying the Japanese storytelling tropes and stylistics pretty much in every aspect of their games. Sunrider: Liberation Day, the second Sunrider titles was the clearest example of this, with its Japanese speech mannerisms (which look at least a bit questionable in English prose), Japanese voice acting and pompous, Japanese opening song – each of them included despite the story being placed in a fictional sci-fi world with no clear connection to Japan, and being directed pretty much exclusively to Western otaku audience. Thankfully, the studio also was able to supplement its second-hand Japanese identity with some interesting ideas, consistently high production quality and, for the most part, compelling stories.

                After the second Sunrider game was completed (and after the backlash from its controversial conclusion was partially mended with an alternate-timeline DLC), Love in Space decided to double down in their turbo-Japanese formula, announcing Shining Song Starnova – a game about a Japanese idol producer trying to turn a team of misfits into major stars of the entertainment business. Funded both through a large Kickstarter campaign and substantial Patreon support, it became the studio’s most ambitious project by far, promising, among other things, seven heroine routes, partial VA by a cast of experienced eroge seiyuu and a high-quality soundtrack appropriate for the game’s music-related main theme. After long development and delays caused by Steam policy changes, SSS was finally released in July 2018, to quite a lot of fanfare, and sparked genuine interest from the VN community. But, was it able to deliver on its ambitious goals?

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com



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30 minutes ago, Mr Poltroon said:

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Haha, well, it wasn't even that, or at least that's not what I had the biggest problem with. It's more that it sometimes felt like that Madoka fanfiction written by patricularly edgy, goth 14 years old. It was desperate to be dark and dramatic and quite often it turned out being distasteful or impossible to treat seriously because of that. Love in Space usually have cool ideas, but they have no idea when to slow down to keep their stories on track...

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1 hour ago, Zakamutt said:

I wonder if they changed any of the things I memed about in the trial https://twitter.com/i/moments/887601776240857089

...probably not any of the weeb language, to my despair... Oh well, I'm a JOP, it's not like LiS would ever make anything I'd want to read at this point.

Well, they polished the writing bit and removed a few most brain-mangling weebisms (ex. that freakin' izakaya became a hostess club), but most of it stayed. Including the Mika's line about being a weeb... Since when that term applied to Japanese otaku? :amane:

Still, I kind of accept all that as LiS' formula, so didn't bother to beat that horse too much in the review. It's also still not the main thing that made me want to burn it to the ground sometimes, after the initial cultural shock the weeb becomes more or less invisible, the eadgy teenager sensibilities of the plot never do. :P

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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I 100%'d this game. And quite loved it, in fact. Yes, weeb stylistic choices and all that, but I was otherwise fond of the writing.

Super cynical view on the idol industry, but all is well because Starnova represents the good side and they always win in the end (Bad ends? What's that? Can you eat those? I skipped through them.).
Even

Spoiler

Quasar was actually not that bad a few years past because of idealistic girls. If you inject a bit of idealism in, we can save the idol industry!

niwhuPg.png?1

I mean, this guy was almost bloody likeable by the end of the sodding thing.

I mean, this isn't necessarily a commentary on the actual state of the industry or anything. It's an hyperbolic version created specifically to make the main girls an even bigger shining beacon of hope and all that.

dk3arT9.png?1

This is what'll save the idol industry.

CGIjWaw.png?2

Even if reality tries to get in the way.

But yeah, the girls are good, the producer is good(?), and in stories the good will win in the end.

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Sometimes it's more like this, but whatever.

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40 minutes ago, Mr Poltroon said:

I 100%'d this game. And quite loved it, in fact. Yes, weeb stylistic choices and all that, but I was otherwise fond of the writing.

I don't think there's any point in arguing about it, it's very much a matter of taste. I found this game too much all over the place - the amount of paedophile executives, psychotic fans and literal shit-eating in the middle kind of didn't let me believe the happy endings. Kamijou was a cool antagonist, but he was an outlier in this regard. It's my personal impression, but that is inevitably the main basis for my review, otherwise it would be dishonest. Same goes for the weebness - some people will find it appealing, some people will get grossed-out Zaka-style and I don't think any of them are "right" about it, enjoyment-wise, but it's still fair to point out how much it is on the extreme end of the spectrum, and that it bothered me from time to time.

I don't fault anyone for loving this game, but for me it did way too many things wrong to be considered great - and it's not just me trying to be an "objective reviewer", they seriously detracted from my enjoyment. It's impressively-made, to the point I kind of feel guilty bashing it, but just OK overall.

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Very nice review. Nevertheless, I think I'll skip this VN ;)

You titled your thread on r/vn "Shining Song Starnova - the most "Japanese" EVN ever created [Review]", and after seeing that I obviously immediately thought about Katawa Shoujo. But comparing my impressions of KS and what I read in your review of SSS, it seems that they approach the issue of being "Japanese EVN" very differently. KS managed to fool many people into thinking it was translation of JVN (which is pretty big achievement, I think), and in my memories there are Japanese voices even though it was unvoiced ;) However, it didn't went over the top with "weebness" as SSS apparently does, and it was very good decision (they even presented quite decent in-story justification for dropping honorifics :D).

The most obvious example of "over the top weebness and edginess gone wrong" is probably No One But You,  and I'm quite sure that SSS doesn't drop to such horrible levels of atrocity, but while I probably could somewhat enjoy it two years ago (after all, I enjoyed some aspects of NOBY back then), today it would be too much.

Edited by adamstan

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2 hours ago, adamstan said:

Very nice review. Nevertheless, I think I'll skip this VN ;)

You titled your thread on r/vn "Shining Song Starnova - the most "Japanese" EVN ever created [Review]", and after seeing that I obviously immediately thought about Katawa Shoujo. But comparing my impressions of KS and what I read in your review of SSS, it seems that they approach the issue of being "Japanese EVN" very differently. KS managed to fool many people into thinking it was translation of JVN (which is pretty big achievement, I think), and in my memories there are Japanese voices even though it was unvoiced ;) However, it didn't went over the top with "weebness" as SSS apparently does, and it was very good decision (they even presented quite decent in-story justification for dropping honorifics :D).

The most obvious example of "over the top weebness and edginess gone wrong" is probably No One But You,  and I'm quite sure that SSS doesn't drop to such horrible levels of atrocity, but while I probably could somewhat enjoy it two years ago (after all, I enjoyed some aspects of NOBY back then), today it would be too much.

Yeah, if I was writing about Katawa Shoujo I would probably drop the quotation marks. It captured the spirit of JVNs without overdoing it or cynical pandering, sadly can't say that about SSS (although I still don't think it kills the game unless you're really not fond of weeb easthetic).

And right, No One But You! You reminded me what my next VN playthrough to watch on YouTube should be. It's not like me keep skipping on a disaster of these proportions. ;)

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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6 minutes ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

And right, No One But You! You reminded me what my next VN playthrough to watch on YouTube should be. It's not like me keep skipping on a disaster of these proportions. ;)

I'm waiting for the next "Shovelware Adventures" episode then :D

 

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13 hours ago, Narcosis said:

The lead dev and creator behind LiS is a hardcore weeb himself; expecting some sort of a miracle in this case was a bit of a stretch.

Sure, but I think many EVN developers are weebs and LiS stuff still manages to stand out with how unbearable it is at times. I mean, Katawa Shoujo was made by a bunch of 4chan weaboos, I'm pretty sure many of them quite "hardcore", but ended up looking and feeling quite differently than Sunrider. ;p

Plus there's a much bigger problem with LiS storytelling, only loosely of at all connected to weeb sensitivities, and that is constantly going over the top with their plot developments. The second Sunrider game derailed itself with that and while SSS wasn't as bad, it's now clear that it's just the inherent part of this developer's style. That wasn't fully obvious after just one instance of botching a game's ending with grimdark nonsense IMO. No one expected SSS to not be weeb, but other things about it could go in many different directions. Especially considering how long and complex it is. :>

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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7 hours ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

Sure, but I think many EVN developers are weebs and LiS stuff still manages to stand out with how unbearable it is at times. I mean, Katawa Shoujo was made by a bunch of 4chan weaboos, I'm pretty sure many of them quite "hardcore", but ended up looking and feeling quite differently than Sunrider. ;p

Plus there's a much bigger problem with LiS storytelling, only loosely of at all connected to weeb sensitivities, and that is constantly going over the top with their plot developments. The second Sunrider game derailed itself with that and while SSS wasn't as bad, it's now clear that it's just the inherent part of this developer's style. That wasn't fully obvious after just one instance of botching a game's ending with grimdark nonsense IMO. No one expected SSS to not be weeb, but other things about it could go in many different directions. Especially considering how long and complex it is. :>

You don't need to be a weeb to create good visual novels with anime aesthetics, nor is being one a requirement. The core people responsible for KS weren't weebs; they were mostly troll extraordinaries, which is a norm for many respectable 4c users.

Edited by Narcosis

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16 hours ago, Narcosis said:

You don't need to be a weeb to create good visual novels with anime aesthetics, nor is being one a requirement. The core people responsible for KS weren't weebs; they were mostly troll extraordinaries, which is a norm for many respectable 4c users.

Maybe, but who outside of weebs even know what VNs are? KS couldn't happen without an intimate understanding of the medium and it's not something people gain by chance...

Though I guess the distinction makes sense if we use the super-pejorative definition of weeaboo, that is a person shallow, obnoxious obsession with Japanese popculture. I'm kind of used to applying the term in a broad sense, simply as "a fan of JP otaku media". :P

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Greetings! About this Visual Novel... Does the hentai scenes has sounds or voice acting or does it just stay silent whenever the naughty stuff happens? 

Edited by Templarseeker

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3 hours ago, Templarseeker said:

Greetings! About this Visual Novel... Does the hentai scenes has sounds or voice acting or does it just stay silent whenever the naughty stuff happens? 

I actually had to do some digging as I never keep partial voice acting up in the long run and had no quick way to check it out now... But it seems the h-scenes have moans and stuff like that voiced, even if there's no full dialogue included.

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37 minutes ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

I actually had to do some digging as I never keep partial voice acting up in the long run and had no quick way to check it out now... But it seems the h-scenes have moans and stuff like that voiced, even if there's no full dialogue included.

Thank you so much for the info! Really appreciate it! 

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