I'm guessing some of those that follow my blog are wondering why I haven't started up any random VNs this month... there are a number of reasons.
1) I'm busy. I have my work, with an addition of university, which takes up about 80% of my time, save for a few days like today when I have time to rest and relax.
2) I simply don't have an appreciation for anything in my backlog right now. I cleared out most of the most interesting stuff over the last two years, and I'm keeping what little is left for a truly rainy day, when I'm not busy and I don't have anything better to do.
3) This has been a very dry quarter. July, August, and September were mostly dry of interesting releases, and I'm saving up energy for Kenseiki Alpha Ride, which I promised certain people I would play early on, rather than waiting until a later date as I commonly do with most gameplay-VNs.
4) This has been a particularly bad month irl. I've been helping my brother get ready to move his family into our place for a few months while their old place is on the market and they are closing on their new place, I've been applying for a graduate program, and I got several major commissions that have kept me locked down a lot more than I would have liked.
5) I promised myself I wouldn't play any more moege/charage until I've played Kenseiki or the new Fortissimo.
Now for my thoughts... Today's post is going to be focused on what makes a good chuunige.
I should probably define the origins of chuuni as opposed to what a chuunige is. First of all, if any of you have seen Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai, you have at least a vague idea of what chuunibyou is like. Basically, take your average D&D nut or cosplayer and add some delusions of glory to him, and you have a chuunibyou patient. That's simplifying matters somewhat, but it is also fairly accurate for a good portion of them, though.
Chuuni, on the other hand, is literature, games, anime, etc. that feels like it comes out of the mind of a chuunibyou patient. Drama on a large scale, often in somewhat familiar settings, is probably the easiest and most obvious way to tell if something is chuuni. In addition, in a good chuuni-anything, the protagonist is never a self-insert carbon copy of your average harem-building protagonist. I say this because it is the easiest way to tell when something isn't a chuunige, as chuuni protagonists are supposed to experience and/or be something that is beyond what you can experience in your life, whether it is psychologically or physically.
Most chuunige have action of some sort, but not all of them do. A famous chuunige that isn't mostly action - that a lot of you will have played - is G-senjou no Maou. In a way, Sharin no Kuni can also be considered a chuunige, for a similar reason.
The more 'standard' type of chuunige is the 'gakuen battle' type. The most obvious translated examples of this are Tsukihime, FSN, and Comyu. In this type, a schoolkid somehow gets mixed up in a horrible situation that should kill him right off the bat, but he somehow survives to become central to 'the conflict'.
A rarer type is the 'mature protagonist taking on the world' type. This is easily my favorite type, as protagonists in these VNs tend to have more solid philosophies and are less... idiotic. I think most people will agree that Shirou from FSN is a bit immature, though he had mature aspects. However, protagonists in these are adults, whether they are grown up fully or not. An example of this type that is translated would be Sharin no Kuni's protagonist. For untranslated, Hello, Lady and Vermillion Bind of Blood (Toshiro from Vermillion reminds me of Auron from FF X, hahaha) come to mind. Generally speaking, the themes of these VNs will be a lot larger in scale than you usually see in the gakuen battle types. This is because the themes are generally written to keep pace with the protagonists, lol.
The last type is the 'poetic' type, where a writer is obviously masturbating with his keyboard. Masada's works are the most obvious examples of this (Dies Irae, Paradise Lost, Kajiri Kamui Kagura), though Light's 'other' chuuni-crew also writes similar VNs, and Devils Devel Concept and Bradyon Veda by Akatsuki Works both fall into this category. In this type of chuunige, the action, the story, and the visuals all exist as an excuse for the writer to try to blow you away. Currently, the only one of this type in translation is Tokyo Babel, whose release is sometime off... though I'm tempted to include Sekien no Inganock in this crew. For someone who loves complex, deep prose, these VNs are pure crack... but in exchange, they are also incredibly difficult to read for someone not native to the language.
Overall, reading chuunige is all about having fun. It isn't about being moe-ed to death or being awed by the pretty pastel colors... it is about enjoying the part of you that never quite gave up that desire to be or see something more...