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Shuffle! Episode 2

Clephas

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To be honest, I had great hopes for this game, based on the fact that Agobarrier wrote up the drafts for the story before his unfortunate passing.  I thought I'd see the peculiar humor, the deredere-MAX heroines, and the wacky antics that I associated with the original game.  I expected running jokes (frequently used as accents to various scenes), and I hoped that Navel would finally regain some of its original 'magic'.

Unfortunately, it seems that those hopes are a bit too high.  Perhaps it was inevitable... the team that did this game was partly made up of the writers that have been doing the Da Capo games, which should have told me they would have a less amusing approach to things (though it saddened me that Ou Jackson didn't manage to force things into his style more often...).  The loss of Agobarrier's unique style is sadly all-too-clear in this game, as, while it does channel some parts of the original, the way the most important scenes is handled is far more fumble-fingered and lacking in flare, which is just sad.  

That said, there were some parts where the writing quality suddenly jumped up massively, such as in any scene where Primula was involved (for some reason).  To be honest, it was that very jump in quality that illuminated just how poorly some parts of the game - in particular the prologue and large swathes of the common route - are handled.  

What is truly sad is what they got perfectly right... the characterization of side characters.  Primula, despite being, and all the side characters are really well-done.  So it kind of amazed me that the heroines were so sloppily done.  There is far more effective character development done in the common route for the side characters than the heroines (other than Lims, who has good characterization for the most part) considering their roles, which struck me as a horrible approach.  Rishia in particular is a horribly awkward character from the very beginning, and while some of that comes from her character concept, more of it comes from everything from her VA to her sprite poses... not to mention an odd lack of face time in the common route.  Her voice actor is a familiar and excellent one, so I can only imagine that it was the director that screwed things up...  

To clarify, the heroines that had the strongest characterization in the common route go in this order Lims>Kohaku>Kirara (I hate Kirara anyway though)>Rishia>Nelia.  I say this because Kohaku gets more face time due to living with Raito and Kirara's characterization is so blatantly obvious that it can't help but be effective, if annoying.  Nelia has the least amount of face time in the common route (even if you pick her 'side' of things in the various choices) than the other heroines, and Rishia suffers from her initial introduction.

What is canon?

Without spoiling the important stuff:

1.  It is 100 years since the end of Shuffle.

2.  A great disaster happened sixty years in the past.

3.  Primula is apparently an eterna-loli and is still alive and well.

4.  The current King of the Gods is the son of Shia's much younger (born after Shuffle) brother.

5.  All characters other than Primula from the original have long-since passed away.

Spoiler

6.  It is hinted that Rin died in the disaster sixty years ago.

7.  At least some of the events in each path actually occurred.  

8.  Rishia was very close to her great-aunt, Shia, who passed while she was still a child.  

9.  Neria was very close to Nerine, who died childless and was her adoptive grandmother.  

Spoiler

10. Rin married Shia.  However, it is stated by Primula that worlds where he got together with each of the heroines existed beyond the Gate.

Spoiler

11.  Asa and Kaede worked for a long time as assistants to Neria and Shia.  Both are famous enough to have movies and books written about them in the Demon and Divine realms.  Kaede is practically worshiped as the ultimate woman in the Divine realm.

 

Primu- errr... I mean Limstone

Lims was the first heroine I went after.  This wasn't because of any fetishes on my part (my fetishes lead me to Nelia), but simply because she had the best characterization of the non-human heroines in the common route.  Her development and even her story pretty much mirrors that of Primula's, up to a point.  More is revealed to the protagonist than was to Rin in his time, and the development of their relationship - up to a point - feels natural and even touching.

Unfortunately, the romance is handled... awkwardly.  Considering this comes from a team known for having at least minimal skills in this area (if few others), I was awed at the way the romance in this path felt so unnatural.  While this isn't a path-killer for me (because romance isn't that important to me as part of a story), it was a disappointment.

On the other hand, the drama in the last part of her path and the path up to the actual relationship formation were both excellent... too bad the ending was a little wince-worthy in terms of quality.

Nelia

Nerine's adoptive granddaughter is a seductive young woman who has horrible characterization in the common route (if you read the official character profiles and compare them to the actual heroine in the game, there are almost no similarities).  She has inherited her grandmother's recipe for tamagoyaki, and her path has some eerie similarities to Nerine's in Shuffle (in a generalized sense) without having the same impact.  I won't spoil the original game for you, but I had to wince at the drama used in this path.  

I'll be honest, if more effort had been put into making Nelia into a real character instead of a caricature in the common route, this would have been a good path.  Unfortunately, very little time was spent on Nelia in the common route relative to the other heroines, and this has an unfortunate dampening effect on the reader's emotional investment.

I have to wonder after finishing this path if they just intend to partially mirror the paths from the original game...

Rishia

Rishia's scenes in the prologue are the single most awkward introduction scenes I've seen from a heroine in a commercial VN from a major name in over ten years... no, ever.  To be honest, considering that intro scenes are something most charage writers do well, I didn't expect the awkwardness I experienced.  I mean, I almost dropped the game inside the first half hour, which I wasn't expecting, considering how much I loved the original.  Rishia's character eventually sheds the awkwardness created by the introductions, but I thought my feelings toward her would be ruined by the introduction to the very end.

However, her actual path is a complete turnaround from my experiences in the common route.  Suddenly (and jarringly) the quality of presentation goes up and Rishia goes from being a thin caricature of a heroine to an actual person.  To some extent, this also happened in Nelia's path, but part of the reason this path suddenly took on depth for me was the way it tied into the story of Spiral.  In fact, it feels like a direct extension of the political elements of Spiral, which is why it felt much deeper to me than it probably is if you haven't played Spiral.  

That said, the impact it had was enough to overcome the awful introductory scenes... but it still needs to be noted that this game is horribly flawed, not the least of which by the difference in style between the four writers (why they combined the writers of Tsuki ni Yorisou, Otome no Sahou and that fluff-fest series - Da Capo- I'll never understand).

Conclusion

Understand, I have no interest in the human heroines in this game.  Kohaku is ok, but I find Kirara to be so annoying that the idea of romance with her makes me want to vomit.  

Anyway, this game's primary flaws lie in the common route, which is, to be blunt, mostly fluff.  The character introduction for Rishia was botched, and there was a severe lack of face time for the two main heroines.  These flaws don't make the game unplayable, but for fans of the original, it can't help but be a disappointment.  Rishia's route manages to overcome most of the weaknesses of this particularly mismatched group of writers, but that is more because of the existence of Spiral than the inherent value of the story.

Also, there should have been a path for Marine and Citron.  

Extra

To add to the canon above, I should note that Spiral was apparently written as a prequel to this game.  It occurs a few months before Rishia's arrival in the human world, and it is centered around an agent from the Divine Realm.  I originally thought it was a prequel to Shuffle, but it turns out that it was a prequel to this game, lol.  

 

 



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Been wondering what you thought of Episode 2 since you've mentioned several times that you really enjoy the originals. Sorry to hear it wasn't all that great though.

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6 hours ago, tahu157 said:

Been wondering what you thought of Episode 2 since you've mentioned several times that you really enjoy the originals. Sorry to hear it wasn't all that great though.

It was probably inevitable, without Agobarrier alive to bring life to his creation.  The DC writers were never at his level (most generic writers in the old guard at Navel), and Jackson's style is pretty different.  Trying to use Agobarrier's drafts without his style or talent was doomed to disaster from the beginning... and if they were going to transform it, they should have done so in a way that wasn't annoying.

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Well, many negative reviews about the game but Primula's character is still great though, probably due to her writing already well-established in the past.
 

 
 
🤓
 
Spoiler
 
 
🙁
 
Spoiler

I thought Divine and Demon races are live longer, but heck they are already long since passed away, and I thought Rin died due to old age? But yeah, according to Primula's story, his demise is likely related to the disaster. ... and I thought Shia has a longer lifespan due to her divine blood or something, but I might misread them, as my Japanese is not good enough

Feels bad for Nerine though, she died lovelessly, as she only loved Rin.

Limes route is essentially Mary (Primula) magically giving birth to Jesus (Limes) as the next savior of multiverses :'))

Primula is so powerful that she can manipulate time and space, but it has some downsides apparently as mini-accelerating time (60 min baking process to only 15 min) caused Citrine to felt a jet-lag and a bit confusion, and she also mentioned that seeing the future can cause an unwanted twist of fate. However, despite all of these, she still prophetically predicted that Limes will always smile with Raito at her sides in her vision lol.



Primula is so smart and mischievous right now who loves keeping secrets, and she is likely the most powerful individual in the story politically, and surely the strongest magic-user since forever. I just hope she will get her own route in a DLC or something. She's the only reason I play Shuffle after all lol.

and yes Primula is an immortaloli according to Aoi Nishimata, I added some of the major plots of hers in https://shuffle.fandom.com/wiki/Primula (skyliet's editing), please let me know if there are some mistakes, my Japanese is not the best ^^".

Edited by Primulover

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1 hour ago, Primulover said:

Well, many negative reviews about the game but Primula's character is still great though, probably due to her writing already well-established in the past.
 

Spoiler
 
 
🤓
 
  Reveal hidden contents
 
 
🙁
 
Spoiler

I thought Divine and Demon races are live longer, but heck they are already long since passed away, and I thought Rin died due to old age? But yeah, according to Primula's story, his demise is likely related to the disaster. ... and I thought Shia has a longer lifespan due to her divine blood or something, but I might misread them, as my Japanese is not good enough

Feels bad for Nerine though, she died lovelessly, as she only loved Rin.

Limes route is essentially Mary (Primula) magically giving birth to Jesus (Limes) as the next savior of multiverses :'))

Primula is so powerful that she can manipulate time and space, but it has some downsides apparently as mini-accelerating time (60 min baking process to only 15 min) caused Citrine to felt a jet-lag and a bit confusion, and she also mentioned that seeing the future can cause an unwanted twist of fate. However, despite all of these, she still prophetically predicted that Limes will always smile with Raito at her sides in her vision lol.


 

Primula's character is great yeah... but to answer you...

Spoiler

It is made clear in Rishia's path that both Mazoku and Shinzoku (demons and gods) live 120 years on average, compared to an average of 80 for humans in Shuffle's world.  So they live about 1.5 times as long.

 

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if they live that long how come did they die prematurely? I thought Shia and Nerine died a natural cause. I presume it's because of Rin's early demise. and did they have a child? Rin's descendant(s) should be a major thing in Eps 2, but I don't see any hint



and about Asa and Kaede, did they moved on and had their own family? I only know them based on Primula's story, both taught her how to make delish cheesecakes (Fuyou-style and Shigure-style) and had something to do with the drama club.

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16 hours ago, Primulover said:
  Reveal hidden contents

if they live that long how come did they die prematurely? I thought Shia and Nerine died a natural cause. I presume it's because of Rin's early demise. and did they have a child? Rin's descendant(s) should be a major thing in Eps 2, but I don't see any hint



and about Asa and Kaede, did they moved on and had their own family? I only know them based on Primula's story, both taught her how to make delish cheesecakes (Fuyou-style and Shigure-style) and had something to do with the drama club.

It kind of looks like they both stayed single.  

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If Rin didn't ended up with harem, then perhaps it mean that the writer only follow what the late Agobarrier has in regard of the couple, in which I'm sure that Agobarrier set Rin with Shia while the new writer probably prefer Rin being faithful to one heroine. That, or Agobarrier did forgot to add special privilege of being married with God in his draft, namely that it should be possible for Rin to have harem as long as he marry Shia first. So of course Argo here would likely set that Rin is have his own harem, and that so-called Nerine's adoptive granddaughter was probably set as Nerine's blood granddaughter by Agobarrier in his mind before the new writer decided to mess that as well. While in the end the writer point out that there's a possibility where Rin have his harem, it's probably only serve as damage control from the players outrage who probably didn't like to see Rin only marry one heroine (Well technically two as Shia's route show us).

In the end, I guess Navel here really want to reboot this series with less harem. Although whether I'll play this or not if this is translated, I guess I'll skip it. That said first Shuffle here is still my first proper VN though, and that fact will not change.

PS - Actually the Da Capo writer himself is quite good in that he's the one who wrote true common route along with both of Himeno's and Ricca's routes, but of course Da Capo style here obviously would be clash with what Agobarrier have in mind.

Edited by littleshogun

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3 hours ago, littleshogun said:

If Rin didn't ended up with harem, then perhaps it mean that the writer only follow what the late Argobarrier has in regard of the couple, in which I'm sure that Argobarrier set Rin with Shia while the new writer probably prefer Rin being faithful to one heroine. That, or Argobarrier did forgot to add special privilege of being married with God in his draft, namely that it should be possible for Rin to have harem as long as he marry Shia first. So of course Argo here would likely set that Rin is have his own harem, and that so-called Nerine's adoptive granddaughter was probably set as Nerine's blood granddaughter by Argobarrier in his mind before the new writer decided to mess that as well. While in the end the writer point out that there's a possibility where Rin have his harem, it's probably only serve as damage control from the players outrage who probably didn't like to see Rin only marry one heroine (Well technically two as Shia's route show us).

In the end, I guess Navel here really want to reboot this series with less harem. Although whether I'll play this or not if this is translated, I guess I'll skip it. That said first Shuffle here is still my first proper VN though, and that fact will not change.

PS - Actually the Da Capo writer himself is quite good in that he's the one who wrote true common route along with both of Himeno's and Ricca's routes, but of course Da Capo style here obviously would be clash with what Argobarrier have in mind.

The original Da Capo isn't horrible, the rest are fluff.

I agree that Agobarrier probably had it set as a harem.  Considering very little of what was included was the kind of things he would have included, it is probable that they essentially took the character names and races and just plopped them down into an entirely different setup.  I say this because of the massive gap between the content on the official site and the actual game itself, in particular relating to the heroines.

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Additional spoilers info about Primula:

 

Spoiler

1. Primula is currently the director of the Gatekeepers; the true nature of the Gate is a time-space rift, which connects all timelines and spaces (worlds), and the root of The Great Collapse.

2. She is the most powerful individual in the series, especially in Episode 2, both politically and magically; even the current King of Gods and Demons are under her thumb, and while she is taking a vacation to the Human World, the 10 (or 20? I forgot the exact number) most influential magic users replaced her to keep the Gate stable, which, according to Kunzite, even their power combined was still nothing compared to Primula.

3. Primula likely already experienced all possible routes due to her access to The Gate, learning a lot of emotions, which in turns, caused her to grow to be too powerful, eventually, before things got out of hands, she separated her excessive power, accidentally this event created a new homunculus named Limestone (Limes for short). I believe Limes is the result of the possible Rin X Primula route.


Misc info:
1. Spiral and Shuffle Eps 2 are both take place in Kongo Town.
2. Verbena Academy magically relocated to Kongo Town 20 years before Episode 2.
3. Kohaku and Kirara are possibly the reincarnations of Asa and Kaede, respectively.

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