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  1. Like
    Kawasumi reacted to Dergonu for a blog entry, Tokage no Shippo Kiri   
    Some people on this forum already know me as a pretty big Cyclet fanboy. They make some pretty good dark games, which is right up my alley. Tokage no Shippo Kiri is by far my favorite Cyclet game to date, and in this blog entry I'll be talking a bit about why.
    I found out about this through some people on Discord, and after looking through some CGs from the game, I was rather confused when I was told this is a pure love story. That made very little sense to me, which just sparked my interest even more. After having read the game, I have to say I agree; this is definitely primarily a love story, though a rather tragic one at that. I will be mainly talking about the first few hours of the game in this blog post, then reflect on why I like the game and what it does right, so it's pretty much spoiler free. What you see here is just the introduction to the story that you see after a little bit of reading, so the major plot twists and such is not spoiled here, should you ever feel like reading the game.
    The title of the game plays a very central role in the story, and it does so almost immediately. Tokage no Shippo Kiri = (rough TL) Cutting the lizard's tail.
    The main character, Shuu, is an honor student. Among the smartest people in school, and certainly among the most diligent, Shuu seems like a rather normal guy who wouldn't hurt a fly. He doesn't come in late, he does all his homework and places among the top students on tests. However, this story is meant to show you that although people might seem totally normal on the outside, they could be just a single step from breaking on the inside.
    As Shuu ends up being late one day, he starts running to school in order to make it in time. On his way though, he ends up stepping on something. Upon looking down, he spots a lizard with its tail ripped off. However, the lizard doesn't cower in pain, scream or anything that a human would in a situation where their limbs are ripped off them. Instead, it completely calmly runs away, fleeing from danger, completely unfazed by the fact that a portion of its body is missing. As he sees this, Shuu breaks. Something inside him is stirred, and he wonders, "is it possible for humans to regenerate their limbs like a lizard?" Suddenly, very interested in how exactly lizards can do this, he starts researching anatomy, biology and such extensively. Every single day he goes to the library to read up on immortality, regeneration of limbs, and anything he can come across slightly related to learn how it works. Shuu concludes that the only way to figure this out though, is through practical experiments. Now, at this point this probably sounds like it will turn into a guro fest, but it's not quite how things goes. This is like I said before, primarily a love story, (although the game has a decent amount of guro, it's not quite the same as other guro games in that regard). Anyways, enter Kanau.
    Kanau is a girl who is totally in love with Shuu. She is so madly in love with him, it's a bit confusing really, as she hasn't actually talked much with him before at all. At first, you don't really get any explanation for this. She just loves him, and wants to be with him. She eventually approaches Shuu, and he politely agrees to letting her help him with his research. The two start reading books together in the library, although Kanau of course has no idea what kind of research this really is. Two other students eventually joins in on this as well, and the four of them come to library every day to research. Each one of them have their own motive for doing this, and the way the story keeps their reasoning hidden until the later segments is very well executed, even for the main character Shuu.
    Leaving the other two on the side, let's talk about Kanau and Shuu's romance. (The other two have rather minimal roles in the main route, but bigger parts in their own routes that are connected to the main route later on.) Shuu and Kanau start to get along well, and soon enough they both develop romantic feelings for one another. (Well, Kanau already had these, like I mentioned, but it becomes mutual at least.)
    The thing is though, as the reader you really don't know whether Shuu's feelings are genuine, or if he is just using Kanau for his potential experiments. As I was reading the game I was at the edge of my seat the entire time. Exactly what is it that Shuu wants, what is fueling him, and what is going to happen next? And likewise, Kanau's motives were totally mysterious to me as well. Sure, she loves him, but why? To be frank, you really don't get what is going on for a long time. Though, all of the answers will come in due time.
    Shuu talks Kanau into helping him with an experiment, though she is not the test subject; he wants to test this on himself. Shuu wants to know, "can humans grow back their limbs? Just how far can the human body be pushed when it comes to healing itself?"
    And so, he decides to have Kanau cut off his finger, and then observes the result. (Don't worry, not a bloody CG. I won't link any of those ) 
    Needless to say, Kanau is not a big fan of this idea, but due to her extreme attatchement to Shuu, there is no way she is saying no. Big parts of the game is told from Kanau's point of view, and deals with her conflicted emotions. She hates the idea of Shuu being in pain, but hates the idea of Shuu rejecting her because she won't help him with his research even more.
    After this, things keep escalating and the characters are forced to face their own mortality, quite literally. The truth is that no matter how you try to spin it, human beings are very fragile creatures, both mentally and physically, and you can't defy the laws of nature. This is the main point the game tries to get across, at least that's how it seemed to me. Shuu and Kanau's romantic story is a rather messy one, and this game really brings out loads of different emotions in the reader. I think a big misconception with dark themed stories is that they must always go a bit over the top, so that we can separate them from reality. However, Tokage no Shippo Kiri doesn't do that at all. It's as realistic as you can get with a story like this, and that makes the impact it has on the reader even stronger. 
    The game is very psychologically straining, as you are put into the shoes of these characters in rather gruesome situations. I felt like certain choices in the game were very hard to make, as I was honestly afraid of the result they would lead to. So far, this is the only guro game that has made me feel a connection to the characters in that way. I mean, most of the time, story and writing pulls you in, but the surreal and rather "silly" settings if you will, completely separates you from seeing the story as being anything close to reality. (Like Maggot Baits and Nikuniku. Both games are fantastic, but you don't feel like what you are reading is reality, which makes it easier to stomach the dark and gruesome situations.)
    Of course, it's not like Tokage no Shippo Kiri makes you think it's based on a true story or anything, and 1 route in specific is rather... dumb to be completely honest. It feels like that route was just put there to please guro fans, and it serves little importance to the plot, but still retains some value so that you can't quite skip it either. That was honestly one of the reasons why this game didn't get a higher rating from me. Without that route, I'd be more inclined to go closer to the 10/10 than my current 8.4 rating of it. I like guro in nukige settings too, but I don't like having it crammed into a game that quite honestly felt like a very serious story. The guro in the other 2 routes is used in a way that makes sense to the plot, because of the mentality of the characters and such. Although the same point can be made for the route in question, I think it was purposely just stuffed in there to make the game appeal more to the guro crowd to draw them in. I won't mention which route this is, and I'll let you find that on your own if you are going to read the game.
    This does bring me to the second part of the game I did not like too much, and that was the sheer amount of H-scenes. I never thought I'd be saying that about a game like this, but it's true. The game does put some H-scenes in situations where they honestly don't really need to be. Sometimes the scenes make perfect sense, as many situations in the game stirs up a mix of different emotions in the characters and that makes the scenes feel fitting. But at other times, they just really don't need to be there at all. This game isn't a full on nukige, though it's quite similar in certain traits, and Cyclet might have been trying to flip it a bit more in that direction than I want to admit. Still, the game's story is very good, and the amount of H-scenes hardly changes that fact.
    A few last words about the game. It's told in three routes, though Kanau's route is the true one, and the other two take place assuming you have already read Kanau's route, (so if you are going to read this, read Kanau's route first.) All three of them tie into each other, and only by reading all three will you truly understand everything. If you only read one, you will be lacking key information to piece the entire puzzle together. There is one route which has less of a purpose than the other two, like I said, but you should still read all three if you want all the answers to the questions that might be swirling around in your head when you read this.
    Tokage no Shippo Kiri is a very good psychological game, about a romance between people on the verge of breaking, and them facing the harsh truth of their own mortality. It's definitely not a game everyone will enjoy, but for the people who like darker games with a more bitter taste to them, this is a very good choice. If you can't stomach gore and such, it's not really advised to touch this game.
  2. Like
    Kawasumi reacted to Deep Blue for a blog entry, Gin'iro Haruka general thoughts.   

    After many...many...many hours of reading I finally finished one route which I think is enough since one route in this VN feels like finishing a long VN on itself, also picking a different girl feels incorrect at this point, like I'm cheating someone... (forgive me Bethly ) 
    Giniro is a pure love story, slice of life with some very mild drama(almost non existent), most of it consist on developing the bonds between the main character and his group of friends(only females)  and later on the girl you chose from that group.
    This VN shows you that each one of the girls has a great potential inside of them but they wont be able to use it on their own, they are like rough diamonds, with the help of the main character will "unleash" they full potential(it sounds like an action vn xD), is not like they will turn out to be unhappy or anything like that but each one of them wont fully accomplish their respective dreams or reach their full potential on their own.
    This might be a little spoilerish but Yuzuki wont become a great chef, Mizuka wont reach the first place in the figure skating thing she does, Bethly wont become a famous illustrator, Hinata wont even be able to realize what her true dream is in the first place, finally Momiji won't become a great actress. 
    Another thing to point out is that while all the girls hang around the main character they actually dont love him in secret or anything, in fact it's a long process for each one of them, the only exception to this is your non blood related sister, which is kind of sad since she starts tearing up every time she realizes that she wont be able to be with the person she loves.
    The first part, which is the common route is really long and from there you go into the heroine route which is again really long. It's so freaking long that the vn itself thinks that you are an idiot without memory and re-introduces you the characters like 3 times at some different points... 

    There are 5 heroines to chose from:

    *Yuzuki, your non-blood related sister, she is really shy and probably the "loli" of the group but she works very hard and even though I admit I hate the imouto heroine type this one didn't feel that bad.

    *Mizuha, your childhood friend, again the VN surprisingly didn't go for the cliche thing of the "childhood promise" or anything like that (well, it did but it was pretty subtle and it was also resolved very early in the game without forcing you to pick her just out of pity) she is some kind of figure skating star, to be fair I found her to be the most boring character, specially because I have 0 interest in what she does, so meh.

    *Hinata, the best friend of your sister, she is amazing and really charming, has this quirk way of speaking and expressing herself, most of the users on the internet hate her and her voice acting for some reason, she loves everything about girl stuff (like clothing, hair, how a girl should act etc etc) very sharp and lively, a true energetic type of character.

    *Momiji, she goes to the same class as the MC and thus they become friends, she loves acting and has a very normal character overall, still I found her to be one of the most interesting character... I almost do her route but at the last moment I went for...

    *Bethly, she is probably the character that most of us will chose because she is the foreign girl, she is from Canada and at first she doesn't speak any Japanese so it's kinda of funny to see how she struggles in every situation (the vn doesn't really do a good job portraying this...just a decent job.) She likes to draw, has a really calm personally and a great sense of morality, she is also very stubborn, finally she is the girl I picked.

    *Finally the MC (Yukito or whatever name you used for him, I recommend to leave his default name), he is for my taste.... a bit too perfect, he is a perfect student, friend, son, boyfriend, husband, father..you name something and he is perfect in that, not because he does everything in a perfect way but because he doesn't have a glimpse of malice or egoism in him, which is hard to believe.
    He has a very strong sense of duty and morality and wants to help anyone that needs it, very proactive, he is not naive and doesn't behave like a retard in front of the opposite sex... he is... yep perfect, which was a bit of a let down for me.. because him being that way takes away many opportunities from the novel thus the drama in the VN it's almost non existent or very predictable.There is a reason why he is like that but still I didn't like it.

    The pace in this vn is slow, really slow, for example you won't kiss the heroine until much much later on into the story(let's not even talk about having sex xD), if you don't enjoy slice of life then you will hate this vn because that's pretty much what it is.
    It's hard to compare anything with this or find some equivalents but the closest thing that I can think of is nagisa's route in Clannad (if you take out the funny parts with sunohara and pretty much everything else) and all the heavy drama.
    It does have some funny parts here and there (most of them are generated either from Hinata or an school teacher that you find later on and occasionally from the MC's biological mother.)
    I chose Bethly and later on I regret it, I really wanted to pick momiji or hinata but at that point it was too late...
    Bethly's route was ok, but her inability to speak Japanese was what it kinda ruined it for me, I came to hate the words うれ fucking しい and おいしいい, you will hear those words probably more than 500 times in the novel (or more and no I'm not joking), yes, it's tasty and yes you are happy "I got it" I really do but just stooooooooooooooooooooooooop, this again is something that makes sense in the context of what it's going on but it just pissed me off really bad.

    On the other side, it's really interesting to see how the characters grow(mentally and physically too) and how your relation with the main heroine gets stronger by the passage of time, it reminded me a lot of my own experience with my ex lol so in that sense it's pretty realistic and also maybe boring for some readers.

    Now I will force myself to finish momiji's route even though I'm not very sure if I will be able to do so 
    What I liked it:

    The music.
    Very rich characters development.
    Amazing art.
    Some really good and interesting characters that I won't be able to enjoy xD at least not right now.
    Amazing voice acting.

    What I didn't like:

    A bit slow.
    Too long for its own good.
    The main character.

    What I hated:
    Repetition, specially of some words.
    Not enough strong drama.
    One awkward and very unfitting scene in the story.
    How difficult is it to read?
    Really easy, you can read this as as your first vn without any doubt, I wouldn't recommend Hinata's route for someone new because of the way she talks (not hard at all but still be careful)
    I rate this vn:  Snowman out of 納得.
    EDIT: a little spoiler part to actually point out what was really boring, unfitting and what was actually pretty good.
    Since I don't want to create another topic about hinata's route I will keep adding info here, 
    So Hinata's route has a really different dynamic and it has a lot more of comedy than bethly's, the combination between hina and yuzuki is amazing. I won't say that bethly's route was bad but so far hinata's is overall way more enjoyable.
  3. Like
    Kawasumi got a reaction from akaritan for a blog entry, NikuNiku review: lazy edition   
    so, since im the lazy sidekick for the TL, it was only fitting that I finished this fucking amazing gory mess of a vn after everybody else was done lol. So here is my review, in super lazy edition
    +superb endings
    +/- great BGM, short loops (around a minute each) (favorite bgm track: https://clyp.it/epwzo4pz )
    + the voice acting is amazing
    - the main antagonist wasnt voiced
    + great suspense all around
    +well constructed scenario with great characters
    +ruby-sama <3
    +lots of nice scenes for guro fanatics (they even fuck you over with surprise feels in the middle of over the top guro scenes, thats quite impressive tbh)
    - Mia as a protag is really nice, but her character doesnt stand out as much as the others. But shes fucking moe in a good way, also banya is amazing at writing female characters thats just plain awesome in general, so its not because shes a pushover or the regular danzel in distress (im looking at you grisaia writers) but because her personality can feel kinda dull at times
    - can be kinda predictable for some, but to its defense, it feels like the writer accounted for this and had different theory "traps" set all over the plot that was there to confuse you
    this gets a solid 9/10 from me, it made me feel the same way that saya no uta did and its only a very very small portion of vns that does this. good job banya. Cant wait to read extravaganza now for sure.
  4. Like
    Kawasumi got a reaction from Dergonu for a blog entry, NikuNiku review: lazy edition   
    so, since im the lazy sidekick for the TL, it was only fitting that I finished this fucking amazing gory mess of a vn after everybody else was done lol. So here is my review, in super lazy edition
    +superb endings
    +/- great BGM, short loops (around a minute each) (favorite bgm track: https://clyp.it/epwzo4pz )
    + the voice acting is amazing
    - the main antagonist wasnt voiced
    + great suspense all around
    +well constructed scenario with great characters
    +ruby-sama <3
    +lots of nice scenes for guro fanatics (they even fuck you over with surprise feels in the middle of over the top guro scenes, thats quite impressive tbh)
    - Mia as a protag is really nice, but her character doesnt stand out as much as the others. But shes fucking moe in a good way, also banya is amazing at writing female characters thats just plain awesome in general, so its not because shes a pushover or the regular danzel in distress (im looking at you grisaia writers) but because her personality can feel kinda dull at times
    - can be kinda predictable for some, but to its defense, it feels like the writer accounted for this and had different theory "traps" set all over the plot that was there to confuse you
    this gets a solid 9/10 from me, it made me feel the same way that saya no uta did and its only a very very small portion of vns that does this. good job banya. Cant wait to read extravaganza now for sure.
  5. Like
    Kawasumi reacted to Dergonu for a blog entry, Shi ni Iku Kimi, Yakata ni Mebuku Zouo   
    Hey, it has been a while since I wrote a blog entry. I did make one not too long ago, when the Maggot Baits TL got announced, but thanks to the forum rollback, that got purged. (Thanks a lot Nosebleed. Yeah, we know it was you!!!)
    Anyways, in this blog entry I'll be talking about the guro game that got released by Bug System about 3 weeks ago, Shi ni Iku Kimi, Yakata ni Mebuku Zouo. I picked this up after @Kawasumi told me about it and asked if I wanted to read it with him, (thanks for that by the way, love you <3), and I was completely hooked after just a few minutes in the game. Now, I know guro isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I just really wanted to write something about this game, so here we are.
    The game has a very simple but effective plot and story, though it was a lot longer then I was expecting. (The 2-10 hour marking on VNDB is right on the edge; the game is a hell of a lot closer to 10 than 2. Depending on your reading speed, it could definitely feel like a medium game.)
    At first glance, I thought this was a mere guro nukige, but that was not the case at all.
    A few small details before we start: The game is NOT translated, at least not at the moment. The difficulty of the game is honestly not very high. I'd say beginners can give this a go without running into many issues. You'll find some words you aren't familiar with unless you read a lot of guro, but it's not very hard to understand it if you use a text hooker and parser. Honestly, if you really want to try out the game, you might actually be fine with a machine translation. Test it out and see for yourself. Main point is, the game isn't very difficult to read.
    Let's get into the story:
    It happened without any warning.

    In a world that was peaceful, superior beings suddenly appeared.
    They one-sidedly massacred humans, and the world was swallowed by a whirlpool of chaos.

    While our heroine Mia was shopping with her family, she also fell victim.
    With her father, mother, and older sister dead, she desperately tried to escape, but before she could a different superior man appeared before her.
    Falling into desperation and prepared to die, Mia took up a knife and stabbed the man.

    The next second, she lost consciousness.
    Not knowing what had happened to her, she felt a great pain on her stomach.

    "You hurt my body, now I can't allow you to die easily. Your sin... deserves ten thousand deaths..."
    Pulled from the VNDB description. Basically, Mia stabs a "superior-man" (that is literally what they are called in the game,) and he swears she will die ten thousand times as punishment for her grave sin.
    Some more information on these "superior beings", they look like humans, but are seemingly immortal, can use magic, feed on humans and the lot of them are just a gang of messed up bastards.
    Mia wakes up in a mansion, and soon finds out that this mansion has been taken over by the superior-man she stabbed. He explains the "rules of the mansion" to her in a completely calm and collected tone of voice. (Then crushes her arm to bits after the explenation. What a nice guy!)
    To sum it up, Mia can do whatever she wants inside the mansion and no one will try to stop her, (she can even try to escape if she wants, but it will be futile, as a barrier has been put up around the house, and the only way to turn off the barrier is to kill the man.) Mia's room is "magic", and it will heal any injury, no matter how serious it is. Basically, even if Mia is dead, as long as a part of her corpse is brought up into her room, it will heal over time and bring her back. The reason this room exists is simple: the man will do horrible things to Mia whenever he feels like it, torturing and killing her, and the only way to stop the loop of her being murdered then resurrected is to kill the man with her own hands. Now the game begins; Mia has to look for a way to kill the Superior-Man in order to stop the loop. Also, one small detail that is important to add in is that whenever Mia dies, her memories get all messed up. (The ressurection magic isn't perfect.) This means that you as a reader will be confused as hell a LOT of the game, because you see things from Mia's point of view, and many times she will wake up having forgotten lots of things while the game kept on going, which means you won't get what the fuck is going on at first. (This is a good thing though, as the confusion adds to the suspense in the game when Mia walks around trying to figure out what is going on and how she can save herself and the others trapped in the mansion. Of course, all the confusion is cleared up in the end, so if you stick with it, you'll get all the answers you want.) Sadly, it did also make the game repeat itself a lot, which wasn't a deal-breaker, but it did get a bit boring after a while. "Mia wakes up, wonders where she is, puts on clothes, walks out into the hallway, goes down to the dining hall." Rinse and repeat.
    The art, music, CGs and backgrounds used in the game are all freaking stellar. It's very high quality stuff. The music is great, and adds to the feeling you have of being trapped in a mansion with a psycopath walking around. It's such a simple horror setup, but it's pulled off so well in the game. The art is quite hilarious actually, because it has a strong moe feel to it. (But, this game is not a moege, obviously )
    Here is a CG from the game, so you can see the amazing moe art in all its glory:

    And to get a taste of the dark elements, and the great music in the game, here is the game's opening. (The censored youtube version.)
    Anyways, like I mentioned in passing earlier, there will be other people in the mansion as well. These people are humans the Superior-Man caprutres for food, and some of them he chooses to use for toys, kind of like Mia. During the game, you get several choices that will let you choose Mia's and the other girls' fate in the mansion. Make a wrong turn, and ... well, you'll figure that out on your own if you choose to play the game
    Some of the other characters will try to help Mia plot out a plan to kill the Superior-Man, and you will be able to decide how you proceed with the plan and so on. Some of the choices will "reward" you with unique CGs and scenes that you cannot get otherwise, making for some decent replay value. The game also has a large amount of endings, (I believe it has around 7 or 8,) so you can keep getting different outcomes depending on your choices.
    All in all, the game is freaking awesome for those who likes dark horror games. Of course, the game focuses heavily on H-content, and several of the scenes contain some fairly "spicy" fetishes, so it's not a game everyone will enjoy, but like I said before, this is not a pure nukige. There is a clear story and the game has a purpose. Everything that happens in the game adds to the story in some way, and as you continue to progress through it, you'll be dying to figure out what happens next.
    That's about it, (this might have turned out a bit messy, sorry for that. Just really wanted to write something about this game real quick.) I'll be trying to get out more blog posts in the future, as I have been way too inactive with my blog after I finished The Last GM Standing.
    Anyways, thanks for reading! Go play the game!
  6. Like
    Kawasumi reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, How Adorable Heroines are now just Generic   
    How many of you started reading VNs, manga, or watching anime solely because the girls were so adorable?  I wasn't one of those (I began with Record of Lodoss War, lol), but Ai Yori Aoshi and Love Hina introduced me to the concept of the 'moe-heroine'.  Whether it was their way of speaking, their looks, or their attitude, moe heroines became an integral part of the otaku experience at some point (well, the male-oriented one anyway), and I actually don't have any problems with that.  I have lots of fond memories of moe-heroines (since almost all VN heroines and anime heroines nowadays are done like this, to one degree or another).
    However, as I've dug deeper and deeper into the VN universe (I realized this with anime long ago) I came to realize... all the heroines were beginning to melt together into one big moe blob inside my back-brain.  This is because very few heroines stand out enough to remain distinct in my mind from all the other, similar heroines inside my brain. 
    Understand, I never really experienced the 'blob of moe heroines' phenomenon until the last five years or so... first with anime, then (two years ago) with VNs.  As a result, it is harder and harder to find 'standard' heroines interesting in and of themselves... their situation and setting have to be interesting enough to keep me from abandoning them emotionally. 
    Do you want to know how many heroines remain distinct in my brain from the last three years of playing VNs?  Just thirty-three... and that is from well over seven hundred heroines whose routes I've completed in that time.  Frankly, even if I find an archetypical heroine interesting for a single playthrough, it is a rare heroine who makes an impression strong enough to retain her individuality in the collective VN memory of my under-psyche. 
    I once mentioned this to a newbie VN-player (naturally a moe-gamer) and he essentially blasted me about how I was a blasphemer against the pure love of 2D... 
    My response was, quite naturally, explosive laughter which I didn't bother to put into text. 
    How many people do you actually remember in real life as a distinct human being without meeting them every day (or at least with some frequency)?  Even if you see 2D as a real world, do you seriously think someone who has gone so far down the road of the VN otaku as I and some others in the community have to remember every single heroine they've encountered? 
    I'm fortunate.  I have a natural gift for storing episode memory, so if I start replaying a VN, I generally remember the heroines and their paths almost immediately.  However, expecting me to remember yet another tsundere osananajimi amongst hundreds of others off the top of my head after a year is fundamentally ridiculous, in my opinion (real example... also one of the two most common archetypes, along with the deredere osananajimi). 
    This doesn't necessarily mean the VN in question is bad... it just means the heroine is one I've seen dozens of times before, placed in different situations with a different appearance.  Some of the heroines I forget until I'm reminded about are from truly wonderful VNs... but that has absolutely no effect on whether I can remember them without some serious effort, lol.
    For my fellow vets... are you any different?
  7. Like
    Kawasumi reacted to Valmore for a blog entry, Surrogate Friendship   
    CONFESSION: I use you guys in lieu of an actual social life. I really do.
    The internet has made certain things easier. When you find people you share things in common with and can socialize in some way, such as message boards about Japanese porno games stories, you tend to use it as a surrogate friendship. Heck, I actually got married because of CrossGen's boards way back in the day.
    So, I love you guys.
  8. Like
    Kawasumi reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Clephas' basic advice to untranslated beginners   
    Since I get asked questions constantly on this subject, I'll go ahead and list a few pieces of advice I felt apply to most beginners.
    1) Use translation aggregator and a text hooker, even if you feel like you should be getting out your kanji dictionary, out of a sense of self-reliance. I'll be blunt, it is hard to enjoy something if you have to refer to a kanji dictionary for every other non-particle word. I am sometimes stunned at people bragging about spending 100 hours on an 8 hour moege because they chose not to use a text hooker. That is not an efficient way of using your time, even if you want to learn kanji. It is actually more efficient time-wise to do kanji exercises separately and read your VNs with a text hooker (you'll still be done with both in half the time it would have taken for you to read it using a kanji dictionary).
    2) There are two methods you can choose to start your untranslated career... you can start off easy and work your way up, or you can smash your head into the walls of text of the harder VNs out there. I chose the latter, and most people choose the former. The walls of text method has the advantage of jump-starting your learning... but in exchange, you'll probably end up sleeping more to let you process all the new information you've gathered and you'll get frustrated more often. If you want to use the former method, I made a list here sometime ago ( http://forums.fuwanovel.net/topic/3493-for-love-of-vns-for-beginners/ ).
    3) jparser in Translation aggregator isn't perfect, nor is Mecab. They are tools to give you a chance to parse the kanji faster, rather than a translation tool. However, there is a good side-benefit to the frequently weird choices of furigana they make... and that is that you'll naturally learn the path to understanding kanji puns without having to look them up later, and it will become ever more easy to dissect more difficult words even without the tools later on.
    4) In the end, mastering reading untranslated VNs is an uphill battle for most people. Don't expect yourself or everything you use to be perfect from the beginning, as the very idea is absurd. You'll run into stumbling blocks constantly, and you'll worry endlessly about whether you really understood that last line for most of your first hundred VNs or so.
    5) If you read slowly in your native language, you will also read slowly in Japanese. Reading is reading, and it is a skill honed by a simple process of practice, practice, practice that never ends. Yes, learning to read fast in your own language will help you learn to read fast in Japanese once you've gotten to a certain level. If you are barely competent in your own language, I'll be frank in saying that this isn't for you, not to be mean but because it is the same skill, regardless of the details.
    6) Last of all, I'd suggest hitting a wide variety of genres early on, not just your favorite ones. Why? Because that sense of wonder and love for VNs is only going to last through your first twenty-five to forty VNs, and once you've gotten past that point, it is going to be harder and harder to grow beyond your limits on your own.
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