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Tenshi No Hane wo Fumanaide Review


Nemesis

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 「ーきっとこれは神様を許す物語」

"...this is undoubtedly a story about forgiving God"

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Tenshi no Hane wo Fumanaide or TenshiHane, is a glorious tribute to Nietzsche. It borrows heavily from Christian mythology of an omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent God. Alas, due to its themes, if a Christian read this, he will probably have a stroke with froth coming out of his mouth. The setting is a school, Saint Solyluna Academy, which is divided into two different campuses separated as islands: Sun and Moon Campuses. Someone gets chosen as μ from each campus and gets their wish granted. Through the existence of μ, the existence of God has been proven. What does it mean for humans if such a God exist? We as humans can only and express our humanity by overcoming God and creating our own values. The Sun and Moon campus represents the different faces of God and to see what lies beyond good and evil. It warns of the danger of having a personal God. Finally, Shumon Yuu adds his own interpretation on what it means to be human through will to power.

Our Protagonist, has circumstances that makes him cross-dress to attend Saint Solyluna Academy, as it is an all-girls school. There are 5 different routes and a True Route. I don't know why, but they opened up all the routes from the start. It obviously flows better if you do it in a certain order: Hikaru > Natsuhi Sisters > Hanene > Ikoi > Sora

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The Sun Campus represents the outer face of God and the concept of good. The Sun Campus is the more boring side of the story with students living a normal fulfilling school life. Although, it might seem like a peaceful place at first glance, it's filled with innocent malice and self-centeredness. Instead of straight-up battles, it's filled with people pulling each other down to become μ. It's a reflection of the 表 and 裏 of society. Those with virtues recognized by God become μ candidates and can activate miracles which sprouts wings from their back. μ is the seat closest to God and can directly tell God their wishes.

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On the other hand, the Moon Campus represents the hidden face of God and the concept of evil. Anyone with a brain can easily see that an omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent God does not make sense logically. There is the omnipotence paradox, omniscience paradox, and benevolence paradox. The Moon campus resolves those paradox by the concept of an imperfect, malevolent God: Demiurge. God is not eternal, only the throne is eternal. Unlike the Sun campus, the Moon campus is ruled by the strong. which is really a reflection on society. So what does it mean to become μ in this campus? It means to become the successor to become the next god, and similar to how the top in human society is chosen. To become God is a ritual of revolution and usurpation similar to how the top in human society is decided. The students are fighting using magic to be chosen as μ to get their wish granted. Because God and the world is malevolent, they learn magic to overcome it. Miracle is power from being recognized by God, while magic is something that is studied and mastered.

This work tells you to look beyond good and evil. It breaks down the concept of good and evil being decided by God by showing that God is neither. Our cross-dressing protagonist's teacher on the other hand views things from a very neutral perspective as someone coming from a Martial Arts background, that good cannot exist without evil.  What is good for someone is evil for another, similar to Muramasa's themes. Good and evil are just concepts decided by humans to suit their needs. Rather than caring about good and evil, we should pay more attention to the people close to us. What matters to the individual is whether it benefits the people close to us or not.

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TenshiHane warns of the danger of having a personal God. This is mainly explored in the True Route with a lot of it coming from the MC's teacher. It explores how religion is formed and God is born. God is born from the ideals of humans, especially to cover for their fear of death. It is something which allows our weak hearts to cope with reality. But one should not become overdependent on it. God should only be a guidepost, a goal to work towards to. His master warns him not to cling to God whether it exists or not. To rely on God means to leave the decision-making to another. It allows the weak to cling to it and throws away their selves and decision-making in favor of faith. The concept of an absolute God was created by people oppressed as slaves in Egypt without their own land. The concept of God if taken too far is the same as staying a slave, with your master just changing from the Pharaoh to God instead. Humans should be in control of God, and not the other way around. One should walk on their own feet, and that by itself is proof of your humanity.

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Taken as a whole, TenshiHane has similar concepts to Nietzsche's "Thus, Spoke Zarathustra" (which I just read recently), but it adds a lot more to it. From Nietzsche's view, will to power is described as the main driving force in humans. Will to power is our attempt to assert ourselves onto the world. Projecting our authority of our ego over the authority of egos of others. While will to power is a strong driving force, it's not the only driving force. Ayame's Teacher represents the will to power. For him, humans have to exert their will to power to escape from slavery; to escape from being no more than a beast/dog. The stronger the adversity, the stronger we can become with people joining hands together. A monotheistic God means that the world is God's playground where he can exert his will to power. Evil exist so that God can be good.  Essentially, everything was a one-man play to inflate God's ego, it's his will to power. We have to break out of our shells and learn to walk on our own. Only then, can we prove our own freedom of will. Hence, to be human in a world where God exist, we need to overcome God and express our own will to power.

Spoiler

In other words, to become our own master, we have to kill God and escape from slave mentality. And that's exactly what he sets out to do. Only then, shall the age of humanity flourish. But his students who surpassed him, especially Ayame, goes further than that.

Other than will to power, we also have a will to spend our time with our loved ones. Our relationship and connection with other people is just as strong as a driving force for humans. A good example of this is Toro-senpai, who tried to literally exert her will to power over the entire world as μ. But she was not really happier doing that as she lost her chance to spend time with Ikoi. A more subtle example is Sora.

Spoiler

Rather than exerting her own will to power of prioritizing her revenge, she finds meaning in her own life by her position as Ayame's sister.

Beyond will to power, being able to share our experiences with others is needed as human's happiness. Will to power alone is not enough for man's happiness. Compared to Nietzsche's extreme view, Shumon Yuu has a much warmer view on things.

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People should think, decide, and take action for themselves. TenshiHane shows us to go beyond will to power, similar to how Nietzsche taught us to go beyond good and evil. It is ok to use God as a coping mechanism to cover for our weaknesses, but nothing more than that. Although, a lot of the concepts are similar to Nietzsche, Shumon Yuu adds a Japanese and much healthier take to the same topic. He basically fix my main criticism against Nietzsche which doesn't take into consideration other people. It's a flawed work with weak individual routes, but shows its fangs in the True route. It's not quite as fancy with kotodama compared to his other work, but still another kamige regardless. There are other themes that I didn't explore such as what it means to be a creator, I'll just leave that to someone else.

Spoiler

"God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him". Then, it's time to forgive and let him go. There is no need to step on his feathers, as he was just the product of our ancestor's will to power. 天使の羽根を踏まないでっ

 

Edited by Nemesis
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This review is a bit spoiler-y for my tastes, but this is one of my favorite VNs for a reason.  Shumon Yuu is perhaps the single best all-around writer that has ever graced the VN scene.  I don't say this because he produces VNs that fit my tastes - quite the reverse, most of his VNs are not a good fit for my obsessions or tastes - but rather because it is a simple fact that no other VN scenario writer I've encountered has ever managed to put half as much meaning as he puts into every VN he writes.  Some have edged farther ahead (Sakura, Moyu comes to mind) in seeking to match Shumon Yuu, but most don't even manage to do that, even amongst plotge from the 'golden era of VNs' (2004-2011).  

To be clear, he isn't a setting-builder.  Shumon Yuu builds stories and uses settings as a tool, rather than making settings the object (Light's Masada and second team both tend to do the latter, as a contrast from a company that fits my tastes).  If any VN writer that has ever lived can be considered a true artist, it is him.

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It's impossible to discuss the work beyond surface level without spoiling it. I'll leave it to others if they want more of a preview as I have no interest in writing a simple summary with information that can just be googled or found in the official websites.

 

I'm mainly writing to document my thoughts for games that I don't want to forget.

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