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Gurenka Part 2 (End)


Chronopolis

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vGsy24U.jpg

Made sure to use the version where Kuon is actually wearing something.

Introduction:

 

Phew, that was long. I wasn't playing the whole time, but I still took nearly a good month and a half. Despite that, I actually have less to talk about than last time.

Gurenka left me with a satisfying feeling finishing Kuon's route. The game has two satisfying routes with decent endings (two of them, to be exact), but outside those two routes it seriously lacks substance. I'd say what I enjoyed the most were Elsrise and Kuon's characters and the BGM.

 

This post is pretty much non-spoiler, I'm don't mention the details or the endings.

 

Character notes:

 

Elsrise's was my favourite character. She had several sides which were quite different, but her character felt well-formed and not forced. A number of developments were only plausible/possible because of her personality.

 

Kuon was a mashup of a ton of different elements, which doesn't make her a strong character so much as her being entertaining in pretty much every scene featuring her ever. She does settles down into something much more coherent in her route though. In fact, I'd Ryouji and Kuon's evolving relationship was one of the shows of the VN. If you like supernatural romance you'll enjoy her route. It's still kinda short though, because there isn't that much plot.

 

Saori was a bit verbose and too explanatory at times. I guess her super frankness didn't mesh well with me. That and it never stops, she doesn't have another mode, other than occasionally being worried.

 

Katsuragi-sensei was a pretty cool minor character who makes the most appearances in Saori's route. It was cool how he brought together the frustration of a denied future, with the strong goal of guiding the next generation towards their futures . He even has one scene with kuon. That was fantastic. In general, I enjoyed the way the MC interacted with him. It was intermittent, off-beat, but pleasant.

 

Fumika, was kind of a non-character. 悪いが文香人権なし。

 

Alize was a joke character, but her prescence was relevant in some places, like bringing together Elrise and Ryouji. Her combat arsenal was a needed contrast to everyone's else lack of magic-y and summon-y skills. I also thought her last fight in Elsrise's route was very tense and cornered, just like the rest of that extended battle.

It's also clear how much Alize and Elsrise care for each other. Alize is the one who helps Erise interact with the protagonist, and in Alize's route Elrise clearly shows an almost mother-like gaze on Alize and Ryouji.

 

Nothing to note about the other side heroines. I can't stand the Miko though. Not believable, frustration to watch, and indirectly screws over everyone else, if I recall correctly.

 

 

Addition comments on the Common route:

 

The common route had a large mystery component as the MC is gradually exposed to more and more raw information as he runs around trying to solve incidents.

I read some Japanese player's blog and agree with him on these points:

-The mystery-heavy common route is probably fun if you proactively sort through the presented information and come up with theories. However the problem here was the problems weren't captivating enough to keep the reader's attention.

-It was easy to fall behind in what was happening if you didn't pay attention. If you fell behind, you wouldn't get what was happening, the MC's objectives were, etc., and you'd probably just give up the damn thing.

 

The theories about people's psychology weren't as interesting as I was hoping. I think this was because there wasn't enough unique conflict to warrant discussion of the underlying psychology. There were some other notions that did get developed decently, though (see below).

 

 

On Gurenka and the concept of the Everyday

 

The everyday school scenes in Gurenka were merely passable. They didn't really serve a purpose or go anywhere. I get the feeling this is common of second-rate Visual Novels. The everyday scenes did ultimately produce the feeling of everyday school life with friends, I suppose.

 

There's a common topic that comes up in a lot of stories, and that is protecting one's everyday life. At one point the MC of Gurenka expresses his fears that their "everyday" was gradually being undermined by the Otherworld.

 

I'm don't really understand the notion wanting to protect the everyday life. In sounds like a vague, cool statement, to protect one everyday, but is that not misguided?

 

If people in your circle of friends is afflicted by hurt or hardship, then of course your everyday will start to crumble.

 

But it's not the "happy, carefree times" one should place first, but your friends. The truer aspiration is to support your friends through hardship and help them find happiness. It's possible to have an everyday where everyone *seems* happy and open, but holds their fears and regrets inside. [1]

 

It's quite human to take comfort in a current set of friends, with the unconscious notion that things will always remain like that. However, time is finite, and the time we have together is even more limited. Even the idea that the everyday is static is mistaken. The everyday we treasure is in fact constantly changing. [2]

 

Kuon also says something similiar, that she's become fond of this daily life and wishes to protect it. Amusingly, I find Kuon's statement a lot more convincing than Ryouji's.

She is speaking from the perspective a very-long lived person. She knows that the time she will spend with Ryouji is finite, and her wish to protect it is made on top of that awareness.

 

[1] This topic is awfully relevant to the light novel Utsuro no Hako no Maria.

[2] From the VN Semiramis no Tenbin. Yes that exact point. It was one of the many societal, psychological, and moral observations made by its characters during the VN.

 

 

The romance component of the game:

 

The romance component isn't deep in this game, what I mean by that there aren't that many satisfying romantic moments, and the romantic components aren't holding up the routes. The only appreciable romance in the game is between the MC and the two heroines Kuon and Elsrise.

 

Both the romances felt pretty short, but they both had an existing relationship that started developing way before they crossed the line of lovers. In the case of Kuon, more is depicted (compared to Elsrise) after the two become a couple.

 

Kuon's felt like a deep connection. Elsrise's felt like doting adoration, with the MC being carried along with the flow a bit. They weren't half bad, really.

 

 

The ideas expressed in the game:

 

I think there were a few themes that Gurenka utilized successfully, and that they led to some of the VN's more satisfiying experiences. They are:

 

- Nostalgia (The flashbacks, Kuon and Elsrise telling about their pasts)

- Frustration over unreasonable and unfair circumstances (Katsuragi-sensei, to a lesser degree the MC).

- Lamenting the past (Kuon, Elsrise, Haru-sensei)

 

The BGM really contributed to bringing out the nostalgia. It's a melancholic, slightly lonely nostaligia. The two non-human heriones feel like they've actually lived their pasts, and aren't just characters with the longevity "tag" tacked on.

 

 

Suggestions:

 

I'm going to consider Fumika's route a backstory route, as Fumika really doesn't develop or do anything during her route. Why does she even exist? God forbid if you were hoping for something.

 

Saori was decently established as a character.

Her route could have been made worthy if the themes were made stronger and more plot was involved.

 

Alize, though she's a bit of a joke character, had her roles. I would have welcomed learning more about the her nature and origin of her abilities.

It also would have been nice to have had more meaningful Elsrise/Alize and Kuon scenes. There weren't that many.

 

It's hard for me to suggest additional scenes in the routes because there were so few plot elements. On the character front, Kuon doesn't have any more to show; she only started to develop soon after she met Ryouji, and all the sides of her are shown. There also isn't any more interaction to be had between Elsrize and Kuon without introducing new elements to the story. If you boil it down, there's actually an unbelievably small amount of complexity/substance in the VN.

 

The most developed part of the VN was really Kuon and Elsrise's story. Kuon's route felt satisifiying because it finished explaining the past which involved both of them. Elsrise's route felt satisfying because of Elsrise's personality, her identity, and the satisfactory explanation of fights and the Otherworld following incidents. Both routes are where the "ideas" I mentioned earlier get evoked the most.

 

In that case, they could have just focused on this part of the story, and gotten rid of all the other routes except those two. The MC's backstory could have been slipped into Kuon's route, and Katsuragi-sensei's incident could have been put in Kuon's side of the common. Hell, I think Kuon should have been relevant for the MC coming to terms with his somewhat misfortunate past.

 

Final words:

 

All in all, Gurenka is a reasonably 'decent" game. The core story (Kuon and Elsrise's route, mostly Kuon's) is satisfying and enjoyable. The VN is just somewhat too long for what it's really about: the surrounding scenes and other routes, while interesting here and there, are lacking in substance. I have yet to see a game with youkai (or equivalent) heriones where the human routes are better. Demi-humans too strong?

 

I give Gurenka an 8 for the Kuon and Elsrise's route and 6 for the other routes.

 

---

 

Other Misc. Thoughts: (In case you are interested in hearing even more of my rambling)

 

Spoiler

Normally I would put these in a seperate post, but these are more related to Gurenka and less suitable for discussion in a vacuum. They are a little more tangential and so I've set them apart from the regular post.

 

On Elsrise's appeal as a character

 

At first glance, Elsrise looked like she was going to be one of those proud haughty high-class ladies.

 

But during the loop world, it becomes clear how she is considerate even to those she doesn't know. At first, this might seem the same as human manners, but Elsrise is not human. Elsrise is long lived and powerful, enough for it to become natural to view humans as inconsequential like Kuon does.

 

The image that comes from Elsrise is that of nobles or people from a high status, who are kind and considerate, not as an outward policy, but as who they are. There's a feeling of looking up to such people, and a feeling of humbleness/wonder when those people a world apart from you interact with you properly.

 

Elrise isn't described as peace-wishing altruistic noble princess , because she is clear on her objectives and does not hesitate in accomplishing those objectives. And of course, she fights directly, though isn't a master tactician. Does this make her image similar to a knight? It's close, but she isn't heavily bounded by her code (ct: Saber from Fate), nor is she subordinate to a lord.

 

Elsrise doesn't fall into any existing image and as a result ends up being a fairly memorable character.

 

Check out Ryouji's classmate's reaction to Elsrise. "香夏子「うわっ! うわ~~っ! 可愛い!お姫様みたいっ!」「なんかすっごく育ちが良さそうじゃない?普段お城とかすんでるの?」.

It's the response you'd expect, but I thought it was especially fitting for Elsrise. Her personality fits the fact that she was born from people's longings and dreams.

 

Regarding the film about the boy and the fairy (Elsrise's Route)

 

Elsrise complained that the ending being one of seperation made the story trite and boring, as she had experienced similiar relationships in the past (she said she had at least one good female friend, though the time she fought Kuon was when Kuon ate her friend.).

The movie's ending actually seems like the more easily imaginable one, from a film or story's perspective. Why is this?

 

Well, first of all, it's hard for the human to depart society permanently. There's family and friends left behind, the human would have a hard time coping with never seeing them again. There's also a certain negative association with the act of abandoning your home, it can be seen as an abandonment of one's responsibilities.

Most people, even children are deeply ingrained with the concepts of this world, or if they are not, they are thought to be. If they spend a few years in a fantasy land, who's to say they won't come across as a different person. From the outsider's perspective, the person suddenly vanished and then became someone else. It's as if the person they knew was died that day they disappeared.

 

Another possible ending is the human returning to their world, but keeping some form of contact. In this case, annoyingly there still is the slight negative association of someone who's crazy and imagines voices in their head. Moving beyond that association, what does having contact mean? It depends on what kind of relationship the fairy had with the human, and what the human's adventures mean to them. Is the fairy a friend? A lover? Was their adventure a childhood's fantasy? Or a precious, unforgettable trip to another world? Just by holding contact, or remembering the adventure as something other than a childhood fantasy, the human stands a little seperate from everybody else. This isn't bad, but I think one must be strong and resolute in order to affirm both their societal life and their supernatural experiences.

 

The similarity between the film and Elrise's route is kinda neat in that their relation must settle towards some conclusion. What actually happens is that Elsrise decides to stay with Ryouji for the rest of his life. It's quite the happy ending, but here Elsrise is the one who still carries her longing for her homeworld unresolved.

 

Even though he's a teenager and it shows, Ryouji still gets in the last word, saying that Elsrise will always be needed by their children, and perhaps grandchildren. It's an amusing thought wondering how Elsrise might have change by the time she is visiting her great-grand children. It's pretty easy to imagine how she would react to a selfish kid (exasperation), but what about an obedient child? Surprisingly, there are hints to that, in how Elsrise instructed and acted decisively for the benefit of Alize and Ryoji in Alize's route.

 

3 Comments


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Katsuragi-sensei was a pretty cool minor character who makes the most appearances in Saori's route. It was cool how he brought together the frustration of a denied future, with the strong goal of guiding the next generation towards their futures .

It's weird how this (of everything you said) is what most interests me about the VN. I like seeing the teacher/mentor archetype in VNs and anime, especially when it's done well, and it seems like you're saying it is. 

 

However:

The everyday school scenes in Gurenka were merely passable. They didn't really serve a purpose or go anywhere. I get the feeling this is common of second-rate Visual Novels. 

When you say "merely passable" how does that compare to the 'everyday' scenes in the more modern Key titles? If the school scenes are more like the ones in G-Senjou I could probably tolerate it though.

 

It's quite human to take comfort in a current set of friends, with the unconscious notion that things will always remain like that. However, time is finite, and the time we have together is even more limited. 

 

This kind of strikes home for me. Recently I graduated from HS, and the last couple of weeks with my group of friends was weird. (It was a lot like a VN). Everything was like it always was, but we all knew (but rarely spoke) about the impending graduation. It was like we didn't want to think about that big inevitable change that would end the monotonous cycle we grew accustomed to. So in this sense, I can understand the characters wanting to protect their everyday lives. It stems from a fear of involuntary change (I would guess, as I haven't read the VN). 

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It's weird how this (of everything you said) is what most interests me about the VN. I like seeing the teacher/mentor archetype in VNs and anime, especially when it's done well, and it seems like you're saying it is. 

Hmm. I haven't really thought about the teacher/mentor archtype, or seen it much. I don't know what I would call at all what to call well done in the archtype. I suppose if the teacher's character or viewpoint is interesting. 

 

When you say "merely passable" how does that compare to the 'everyday' scenes in the more modern Key titles? If the school scenes are more like the ones in G-Senjou I could probably tolerate it though.

 

They were just banter and small jokes stuff. There were less over the top gags and strange people than in G-senjou. It felt like everyday. There wasn't that much of it, there was a lot of hard-to-keep-up-with mystery in the common route. I didn't dislike it, it just I felt like there wasn't really a purpose.

 

This kind of strikes home for me. Recently I graduated from HS, and the last couple of weeks with my group of friends was weird. (It was a lot like a VN). Everything was like it always was, but we all knew (but rarely spoke) about the impending graduation. It was like we didn't want to think about that big inevitable change that would end the monotonous cycle we grew accustomed to. So in this sense, I can understand the characters wanting to protect their everyday lives. It stems from a fear of involuntary change (I would guess, as I haven't read the VN).

 

It's been a few years since I've been in highschool but I can really picture that scenario. No, I think what you are describing is very related to what the MC was feeling.

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Escu;de isn't very good at doing human heroines and everyday life scenes...  most of their games are gameplay-focused, with story taking a very distant third on their list of priorities (behind the H, in some cases).  Story-wise, Kuon's path is the best in their entire lineup, which probably says a lot about them in general.

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