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atorq

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    atorq reacted to Ariurotl for a blog entry, 10 Times I Despaired in Grisaia [SPOILERS]   
    1. Those multiple times Yuuji considered ignorance to be a perfectly valid excuse for gross generalization in his godawful internal monologues.
    "All "big" women are shopping in a certain way. But I'm not an expert in this sort of thing." "Students at this age have got nothing but homework and masturbation to fill up their free time. But I'm not an expert in this sort of thing." Well, if you're such a non-expert-at-this-sort-of-thing, then kindly shut the fuck up. I mean... um... stop this train of thought the fuck up. Whatever.
    2. That one time Yuuji (and the writer) couldn't figure out whether his superiors value him.
    At different points in the story, he describes himself as an extremely valuable asset and a worthless disposable dog. Alright then!
    3. That one sequence with EEEEEVUL cannibal orgies and the notion that tasting human flesh (even unwittingly) somehow makes one beyond help and/or salvation.
    They're all GHOUUUULS now, Amane. So, you know, don't feel bad about abandoning all of them. And try not to think too much about all the stashed food Kazuki hogged.
    4. That one time Yuuji couldn't make up his mind about conventional medical treatment.
    When it comes to Sachi, medical science is obviously worthless... but sure, let's send Michiru off to a hospital, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't hurt.
    5. The whole thing with Yumiko's dad, wherein barely legal teens play the stock market (or something).
    Gawd, that part was so awful, I've done a pretty good job at erasing it from my memory. That entire sequence after Yumiko's dad arrives at the school? That's what I am referring to.
    6. That one time they blew up the fucking school.
    Really? REALLY?
    7. Michiru's "GOOD" ending.
    Ugh.
    8. Sachi's final decision point and its completely random consequences.
    Huh. I guess thought really is material. Who knew?
    9. Those several times I nearly dropped the whole thing even before the first decision point.
    The common route eventually turned into the most excruciating piece of slice-of-life I've ever read. I couldn't wait for the repetitive and pointless torture that stopped providing any new insight into characters' personalities and motivations after the first hour or so to be over.
    10. Those seven and a half million times Yuuji was being a reprehensible douche.
    Worst protag ever? Worst protag ever.
  2. Like
    atorq reacted to Mr Poltroon for a blog entry, Gahkthun - What I Think of Neon   
    You can find the original post here: http://forums.fuwanovel.net/topic/12218-gahkthun-of-the-golden-lightning-released/?do=findComment&comment=379071
    In a timely reply to Eclipsed's pertinent question.
    ----
    When I first started this VN, I'll admit, I had high hopes.
    To start with, it had Koestl as a translator, and his translation of Grisaia no Kajitsu very much made for half the VN's greatness. In my eyes, he proved himself as entirely capable of "translating", a broad term that can mean anything from converting a bunch of words from a language into appropriate synonyms of another language; to picking up the meaning of a sentence or paragraph and rewriting it in another language whilst attempting to maintain the same style, word usage and meaning. I'm specifically referring to the latter here: For examples, check many of Grisaia's word puns, language usage and referential/cultural jokes which, in the hands of many other translators, would have lost their significance in a western language.
    I was not disappointed on this front. I do not know the Japanese language. I could not possibly know (much like with Grisaia) whether the speech style, narration style, word usage, terminology or what have you has been faithfully translated. What I can vouch for is that it's certainly a cohesive, natural and, to many, I'm sure, beautiful work in its own right. I'm not here to debate whether "Gahkthun of the Golden Lightning" is Sakurai's story that has been respectfully converted into our language, or merely Koestl's modified copy. I'm here to state that, so far as I believe, "Gahkthun of the Golden Lightning" is a wonderfully written story. The English is phenomenal, in that it is anything beyond what I could ever write, has a vocabulary that is evidently larger than my own and, all throughout, the various stylistic choices make sense in context and work to make an entire cohesive, natural and beautiful work.
    Take this with as many grains of salt as you will, for I am not a native, nor have I ever read anything beyond the standard fare of Visual Novels, which certainly don't even compare. Most of what I've read does not even try to be written this way.
    That's a good point. What do I even mean by "written this way"? I find myself at a loss when asked to describe the writing style, so I'll instead broach my thoughts and opinions on the various aspects of the writing. From here on out, expect spoilers.
    Narration. Three chapters into this VN and I'd put it on the back burner. The VN itself was not bad, but there were things that very much irked me. Not the last of which was the omniscient narrator. Mind you, by themselves, I actually prefer a narrator who is aware of everything, who can describe everything with a degree of accuracy. What I hate, what I despise, is this characteristic combined with various others: Contradiction of facts for emphasis, his omniscience conveniently fails where the situation is most dire, for emphasis, repetition of the same sentences with slight or hardly any alteration, and hyperboles and metaphors.
    I'll try to exemplify these:
    The many times Tesla dodged undodgeable attacks, or avoided unavoidable contraptions. A quote where there were "Ten, twenty, thirty... countless numbers of knives were launched toward him."  is the first to spring to mind.
    You'll notice these hardly qualify as bad writing or anything even remotely close. These are nothing but my own personal preference and I hate every last one of these writing tropes. It's these, in tandem with my general disinterest toward descriptions of battle where most of it is so hyperbolic that it's not possible for me to picture... that made me skip most action/battle scenes. Not just in Gahkthun, either. In Muv-Luv Alternative, in Rewrite, in Fate/Stay: Night, Tsukihime may forever burn in hell for it, and I couldn't even read more than an hour of I/O: revision II - I still don't know what this one's about, only that the writing made me steer bloody clear of it. I want to make lucid I am not absolutely bonkers and contradicting what I've said just earlier: The writing is indeed exceptional. Everything else but these literary devices were parts I loved, and I'm pretty sure that, to just about anyone else, what I've pointed out aren't even flaws, but commendable use of the language.
    After later on being urged to continue reading by multiple users of Fuwanovel itself, I ended up continuing the visual novel, and by no means did I regret it. Some of the literary devices I actually came to find quite charming: "Of the many rumours surrounding the Governing Council, this is one of the very few that happens to be true." x12 - Not that I really know much about writing or its devices. This "omniscient" narrator and blatant contradiction of previously stated facts can actually be used in a rather effective way, methinks. The way the narrator constantly switches with a characters inner monologue is effective. Very much so. It goes a long way to accurately represent the panic, confusion and emotional strife of a character, when we are given such a glaring contrast between narration styles... I can say it was highly effective with me. I could also tolerate the highly hyperbolic descriptions because of how... ridiculous the setting is as a whole. I would actually not be surprised if Nightingale had died a thousand times just by being looked at by... murderous red eyes in the sky.
    Another peculiar thing about the structure of the story, and this goes on to connect with the story and plot more than the writing itself, are the exercises for the reader - or fairytales.
    This Visual Novel is divided into twelve chapters. Each chapter starts with a small introduction, it either expands the setting, introduces new characters or starts smack dab in the middle of an already ongoing plot. When the VN first threw these "reading exercises" at my face I was pretty... intrigued. How weird. Such a strange way to tell a story. What's their purpose? What do they do? Initially, I was quite confused. They were minimalistic, and, more often than not, they seemed to have no real correlation to anything that was going on. How ignorant I was. How foolish of me. There were two aspects I was particularly fond of:
    These exercises, as a whole, required input from the player, and I believe that, for the most part, all of them tried to teach something. To showcase various paths for radiance. And let it be known, radiance, despite the name and main theme behind Tesla, does not always imply good and just. I'll come back to this later.
    The second part I really liked is how effective they turned out to be with me. I cried various times over the course of the VN, probably four or thereabout. The smashing majority were during these exercises. The music and the minimalistic images joined together, the narration and context derived from the main story itself, they come together and fill in all the holes forming a wonderful and emotional tale. The main story shows you the present, which you deem mostly incomprehensible a great deal the time, or fail to understand the context. Afterward, or sometimes in the very middle of what appears to be the climax, these calm, relaxing exercises suddenly appear and fill in all the holes. You learn the motivations. You relate the exercise characters to the real characters, you find out their past through this, and it is altogether more effective than flat out stating it all.
    These brought their own problems. After learning of the nature of these exercises, you start to spot patterns and can immediately deduce who the story will focus on within the first few minutes: See Émile's chapter with Louis-Charles. On the other hand, this can still be used effectively to induce false conclusions. See Berta's chapter - the exercises lead us to believe she is the woman in question (and in turn, may render the "she's actually female" reveal, rather stale) when she is actually her daughter. Not much of a twist, but it does show the writer was probably well aware of the flaw, with how they toy with is like this.
    Moving on from the reading exercises, I'll continue with the setting.
    I found it rather interesting if a bit depressing with a tinge of hopefulness. A Steampunk setting doesn't really speak to me. I have no strong opinions either way. Since this is a Steampunk setting and I'm not interested either way, that's out in regards as to why I found it interesting. This leaves an alternate history setting, which I liked, and copious amounts of references to a living, breathing world out there all throughout the story. Situations like Holmes existing, various historical personages with their own roles in history and my very own dictionary with a good deal of backstory all within. Add to all this how the characters and omniscient narrator refer to previous events constantly, things we don't know about, things we might have known about, were we an actual character in the story, and this works wonders for immersion.
    Of course, hating all things "bad" and "evil" like I do, I was very much saddened at the polluted and irreversible society they lived in. Also not a fan of how most of the "new" technology were things that have only recently been invented or things we can't even mimic with today's technology: See all the giant robots, androids and machines that make you learn on your own (I am guessing they were actually effective beyond being used for the chairman's schemes, here).
    As for the plot, I can say I  actually didn't see it going anywhere far, which is why the last three or so chapters surprised me. For the first few chapters, I thought every chapter we'd get new characters and solve a mystery and help people. Of course, this sort of come and go episodic format doesn't do much for plot, unless they are all connected, and they certainly didn't seem all that connected, early on. I would actually have been fine if it kept up until the end. I liked the format and the various little stories. To me that was fine. But in those last three chapters they picked up the slack, kicked up the drama a notch, let the big bad go free, and made one of those "all those you've helped in the past band together and (in soviet russia) help you" sort of stories. Being a sucker for that sort of thing, I was rather satisfied. Of course, given how the VN had thus far focused the climaxes on the battles, It was rather anti-climatic when Tesla insta-kills the big bad after reuniting with Neon. Turns out the zenith of the chapter had been her trip to Tesla, not the fight itself.
    To go into further details, I feel I should focus on the characters and their respective chapters.
    Starting with Tesla. Because the narrator does not lie (even though he is omniscient: Umineko could stand to learn a few things about not lying to the reader in a mystery), we know right from the start that most of his claims are true, his true nature is one who does not lie, one who pursues justice, one who fights evil. We can also plainly see he is arrogant, brutally honest, curt and that he does not mince words. All of these are pluses to me, provided the arrogance has justification - which it does - in both skill and age. Speaking of age, given how he cannot lie, why is it that he was able to declare he was younger than he actually was? Whilst this made for a small comedic gag about not wanting to seem too old, I don't deem it as worth breaking character or principles for.
    Tesla makes, therefore, for one of my favourite male characters to speak of, in ideals and personality both.
    If I had to find a negative, him deciding he would need to atone for his existence with Neon, that he caused her love life such unnecessary strife because of his predetermined decision... would be my main flaw. Had he simply said, "My existence caused their deaths; by the time I found out, it was already to late.", had he simply explained the circumstances... the whole final chapter could have been avoided, really. Optimal scenario doesn't really make for much of a story, I suppose.
    Surprisingly enough, Neon's friends did not get much in the way of development.
    We know a bit about Annabeth's father and her methods as well of personality. Of Neon's friends, she was the one who appeared the most. Not that that helped me understand what her relation with JJ actually was, in the end.
    We never did get to find out Izumi's secret with the "headband" and tail, though foreshadowing made it obvious enough.
    Poor Albert was hardly present. At least JJ and Louis-Charles had chapters where they could be present more often, but no such mercy for Albert. Being kicked out of the beach chapter deeply hurt his overall presence in the VN.
    These general characters mentioned, I believe I should get some order around here and backtrack all the way to the first chapter... To the very start of the Visual Novel.
    It certainly knew how to make an impression. We start playing as this seemingly nice girl who goes to school and appears to be awfully shy... only to find out her real circumstances aren't anything so nice. We see her deluding herself, all in an attempt to stay at this academy for reasons yet unknown. All we know is that she had to, somehow. We slowly, or maybe rather quickly, see her breaking down, no matter what she herself claimed. We see the nature of the people she is dealing with. When, after a long, long, while, we see that she lost her highly unstable job, and that her boss was quite indeed on the verge of coming on top of her...
    It ends.
    I'm not sure if that's where the chapter ends, but I do know that the story perspective stops there, and we don't find out exactly what took place until... the bloody final chapter. I'll give you this: There's no reason we couldn't have found out about what happened earlier... but I guess it's fine.
    From here we see Neon in a rather shameless position for a while and are introduced to our main character, where he does a wonderful job showcasing the traits I've referred to above. Also, Jelly Beans - we'll come back to those. Speaking of things we'll come back to, try not to forget about the various "Q:"s we were put through at the start.
    Chapter 2 - or are we still in chapter 1? - does some things I very much enjoyed. After that dark and demoralising first impression, we are introduced to the hero who fixes everything, and he did fix everything, and this touched some of my favourite situations in media: A slave being given freedom or being treated like a human. It is actually rather strange how she found the audacity to complain at her new "Master" about all sorts of things...
    That aside, this chapter (or is it the next one?) includes the very first battle in the VN, with Walther. I wasn't really a fan of it, at all. Sure, I like to see overpowered characters using highly exaggerated powers with silly names as much as the next guy, but this is assuming the next guy doesn't like them much. On the other hand, I came to like Walther himself. The character we see here, this terrible first impression he gives us as... plainly evil, really... it disappears. Or at least, over the course of the visual novel, in the incredibly brief appearances he made over the course of the rest of the visual novel, my animosity toward him just simply up and vanished, getting replaced with love, of all things! By the time I got to the end I loved the guy, and it really is mysterious how it all came to be. Perhaps there's something wrong with my head, besides the obvious?
    It was in some random scene after this point that I temporarily halted the VN. When I got back to it, I found myself in Odile's chapter. This is the point where I thought I'd figured out the VN's structure with the various exercises for the reader and "mystery of the week" format. For the chapter itself, I don't have much in the way of impressions, beyond this being the first point in time Neon struck me as remotely interesting. More specifically, in the manner which she manages to read the emotions of a person somewhat accurately. Perhaps I like this trait because I'm a dimwit at it myself?
    Next up was probably Anne's, the iron lady's, chapter. Each chapter shows us a different form of radiance, some more twisted than others, and Anne's? Anne's radiance seemed to be in the right place all the way through. She simply needed to be more aware she cannot be an iron lady toward everything, all the time, no matter how much she wishes it. This chapter focused on showing us the various other sides of the Marshal and revealing a bit of JJ's backstory. All in all, I liked it. She seemed to have something going on with JJ, but we never saw anything too informative, so I suppose it'll forever remain a mystery. Not even our "omniscient" narrator seemed to be fully aware of it.
    Berta's chapter was set up to be the silliest thing yet. The story decided to break the rules of its own setting - or perhaps better put, take advantage of the Academia's constant bending of them - and include a beach episode. It can be said it most certainly came out of the left field. It was nevertheless appreciated: The reader mostly follows Tesla's point of view, and for good reason. The many lines he spouts during these scenes made some quite gold material. The whole love drama with Jo was entirely dispensable... but let's focus on what I really loved about this chapter: The reading exercises.
    The story they told caused many a tear to jump out from my eyes. I can only assume this VN is so overpowered it gushed dust particles in my general direction during these scenes. Either that, or these scenes touched on the right subjects for me, those being family, bonds, and love. I may or may not a have bawled a bit. I didn't quite understand all that much about her whole plot for revenge... I'm just glad she came to her senses in the end. I felt satisfied after finishing this chapter. From here on I was actually rather captivated for every scene about the council, as more and more of the members came to change their views and thoughts.
    Next up was Émile's chapter, which is also where I first understood how there were many sorts of radiance. Her thoughts and beliefs on how a ruler should behave, they all... seemed correct to me. And yet, simultaneously... no human being should have to be put through that. No friends, no emotions, no impartiality... that's what Tesla was trying to point out about her radiance. This is all the more amazing when you consider he's doing precisely the same thing, Tesla, by taking all burden up himself, so that others may live unhindered. Really makes you think about the many kinds of "radiance" out there. What is "just", what is "good", what is "tastiest? Chocolate or Jelly Beans?" This made the entire chapter interesting to me, this battle of ideals. I ended up really liking the resolution, with her "friend" trying to reach out to her, and said friend being helped by her own friends to do it. This is the point in the VN where I liked Neon the most, a girl who is perceptive with others' emotions, and believes in her friends through it all. Louis-Charles also got most of his development from Émile's chapter, not that I ever cared about him, much.
    Chapter 9, or whatever that really short chapter with the gate to hell was, is what I considered filler with a capital F, at First. Upon thinking about it further, even though it had no connection with everything else that was going on in the background, it showed some really good sides of Neon. Her ability to trust Tesla with all her heart, enough to put herself in harm's way just to help a random student, I loved that. Her apparent "No big deal, but would you kindly get rid of the monster now? It's trying to molest me, here." attitude also made for a rather amusing scene.
    Jo's chapter wasn't too interesting by my standards. I was unable to understand the conflict, and Neon's jealously irked me so. Still, I am a fan of mentally broken characters, especially when they come to heal, so I manage to salvage some enjoyment out of this chapter.
    From here, we go on to the big final chapters, and this is where everything culminated. It is almost strange how they managed to address so many plot points then and there. Why the Chateu d'if (or whatever the name is) was one of the first things present on the island, why the students were so easily manipulated, Tesla's backstory, and many other things. If I were to speak of what I liked? Anything after Neon regained here memories. What I disliked? Anything involving Neon before that point. How all the governing council members were related, plus Neon and the society member, is probably the most difficult thing to believe. In my eyes, that was entirely unnecessary. It would have been fine if only Neon was related, but everyone? A wee bit too much, I thought.
    A few more random impressions on the finale: Wilhelm's (...or was it Reich?) fall from glory happened far too fast, and we didn't get to see him until the end, where he still hadn't learnt his lesson. The big bad was about as absurd as expected. Florence never had a real chance to show off her powers, what with getting killed thousands of times over by the second. Tesla and Smilja's backstory really was the best here, it let me cry a bit more. Remember the Jelly Beans? Oh, so that's why. Remember the questions the game posed at the start? What do you think, now that you had time to think it over?
    The very best part was, as I've said over and over, Neon recovering her memories... for no apparent reason, actually; and going on her trip to save Tesla. Meeting all the people you've seen over the course of this VN, if only for the briefest of moments, to the sound of epic music, was epic in and of itself.
    ...I believe that is all I wanted to say. My impressions of this VN were mostly positive, and the finale succeeded in captivating and satisfying me. There is nothing else I could ask of a story. Since I don't want to offend certain people, certain dice, I won't put a numerical value that can be easily spotted from far away, and instead I'll say that it's a nine out of ten, and hide away in an unimportant corner most people won't ever bother reading. The best place to hide a tree is a forest, after all.
     
    This was the original conclusion to my post, for those interested:
    This VN is a bad VN. I wanted it to end a certain way and it didn't. I wanted it to have routes and it didn't. I didn't like some of the purposeful choices in narration. Some sprites and CG's were disproportionate and the UI and menus did not feel smooth as butter. 4/10 VN.
     
    Final note:
    While writing this I had a desk lamp next to me, pointed at some work I was supposed to have been doing, and every time I got up I seemed to get hit by said lamp. So I decided to make a counter for it.
    Hit my head on lamp count: 6
     
    Post Scriptum Final Notum:
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