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ittaku

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  1. Like
    ittaku reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Floral Flowlove   
    Now, as I stated in the previous post, Saga Planets' has two types of VNs it primarily produces... a story-focused type that doesn't avoid the kind of bitter drama that charage/moege tend to despite the moege-type visuals... and a 'strong charage' type that essentially is a more character-focused VN with many of the same strengths as the former type.  Floral Flowlove is the former type, being much closer to Hatsuyuki Sakura and the other 'Four Seasons Series' VNs. 
    As such, as in all VNs by this company, there is a definite 'proper' play order, if you want to fully enjoy this game.  First, unless you are inexperienced at playing VNs, you probably would have figured out that Kano's path is the one that touches on the core elements of the story most intensively... and that is the case, so I seriously suggest you do her path last.  This is my suggested path order Adelheit>Aoi Suu>Kohane>Nanao>Kano.  My reasons are that Adelheit's ending is the one that goes the most out of its way to avoid touching on the protagonist's most intensely personal issues and is the most 'charage-like' path, and Suu is a sub-heroine whose path branches off of Kohane's path.  Nanao and Kano share a basic flow of events up to a point that basically requires you to choose one of them and it dramatically splits off, so it is best to play Kano's path right after Nanao's.
    Now that I got that out of the way, I'll make a few comments on the setting and subject matter.  For those who dislike Christian mythology, this VN might make you feel uncomfortable, though - given that it is a Japanese story - it isn't full of the moralist excess that a Western Christian writer would have put into it.  The focus on angels does have meaning, but for most of the VN, you won't know what meaning it has.  Another issue is the protagonist.  He isn't a cipher in any way, shape, or form.  He is an extremely emotionally-scarred, somewhat self-derisive character who also happens to be eminently capable at whatever he chooses to do (my favorite type, lol).  However, his tendency to distrust everyone, despite his ability to see the nature of people's intentions, will probably drive some people up the wall.  The guy is fundamentally a rationalist (which is fairly rare in Japanese VNs), save on a few issues regarding his emotional scars and the need to protect Kano from her own bad luck.
    The common route of this VN is fairly dramatic and interesting, and Adelheit's path branches off from the rest almost immediately after the first dramatic point.  A second turning point occurs after the turn-off for Adelheit's path that sends you digging through the protagonist's half-healed emotional wounds and his past, and it is actually pretty interesting.  Save for Suu's, the paths and endings are universally first-rate (Suu's path is this game's abortion, though it is fun to watch the protagonist seduce a nun, lol).  I will say that I - as always - have to complain a bit about the fact that the endings only go a few months to a few years past the climax of the story (I really, really wanted to see Adelheit five or six years later, because I thought it would be rofl-worthy).  However, for most people this won't be a problem.
    Each of the paths gives you a final snippet of the past after the credits, and it is, in part, this that made me give you that order of completion.  To be blunt, Kano's revelation is a bit too big in comparison, and as a result, it would be problematic if you saw it too early on (it is meant to be viewed right before going to the final path). 
    About nine out of ten people are going to spend this VN wondering 'who the hell is Riku?' because the protagonist never really explains her in any of the game's main paths.  So... I'm not going to spoil it for you (though a lot of you will probably figure it out anyway).
    Emotionally, this VN definitely has impact... but a lot of it is pitying, sympathizing, or empathizing with the protagonist.  I will say that Kano has seriously awesome hidden depths that come out in all the paths (think a ditz with an intelligence of ten but a wisdom of five hundred in a D&D game), as she is perhaps the single wisest, most selfless and compassionate heroines I've seen.  She isn't terribly intelligent though.  On the other side, Adelheit is pretty hilarious... she is easily the laziest heroine I've ever seen (though she is also one of the more intelligent ones).  Kohane is the kind of girl who would make the perfect mother for a family of twenty adopted kids, and Nanao is basically your standard tsundere (on her own merits, she is probably the second-weakest heroine). 
    The true route... you will cry, so I predict (lol).  Anyway, the true route had me crying for a while, and it was definitely worth playing.  Unfortunately, it is also impossible to talk much about this route without spoiling the entire mess, so I'll just stop here.  I will say that they did manage to avoid the 'true route renders all the other routes meaningless/relevant only relative to the true route' screwup, which is what happens in most VNs with a true route.
    Overall, this VN is Saga Planets at its best, having learned from a lot of the little mistakes in their previous games.  For those who liked Saga Planets already, it is crack, and for those who like a good story-focused VN that isn't a chuunige, this is an excellent choice. 
  2. Like
    ittaku reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, HaremKingdom   
    First, Smee is one of the few companies I've never bothered with in the past.  There were a number of reasons, but it all came down to one issue in the end... I don't like VNs where you name the protagonist.  Naming the protagonist inevitably means the protagonist is a shallow cipher/non-person whose personality and characterization can be changed to fit which heroine he is with.  As such, I tend to avoid games where it is possible to do so.
    HaremKingdom was an exception for two reasons... one, I like harem games... and the second reason is that I love isekai (no matter how bad it is).  In this case, the protagonist is summoned to a kingdom in another world, where he is informed that he is the last member of the royal family and has to form a harem or he'll die.  Now, this 'sex under the necessity' (once a vndb tag, don't know if it still is) setting would normally have put me off... but instead of jumping on it, the protagonist is scared to death of the idea (he has trouble talking to women).  This kept my interest past the point where I usually would have dropped the game... and I'm glad it did.
    The major draws of this game are the unrelenting humor (it is a constant rain of jokes of various sorts, though usually dirty), mild romance, and the H, which is frequently hot.  The heroines are varied (the cool and collected Premier of the kingdom, Marue; the shy and defensive slave girl, Kiki; the manipulative merchant noble's daughter, Charlotte; the innocent but mischievous princess Sophia; and the osananajimi who knows everything about the protagonist, Hikari) and interesting enough to wet the appetite of your average harem-loving otaku, and they actually manage to grow to a degree after getting close to the protagonist.
    The game's main peculiarity is how it handles routes... instead of having pure heroine routes, you instead choose what type of harem you want to create (each has a heroine who suggested it and serves as the primary for the path) and things proceed from there.  
    This is where the typical 'personality alteration' of a nameable protagonist comes in... but it is oddly not harmful in this case, since pretense at storytelling is fairly limited here.  Yes, there is a bit of story to tell, but it isn't that important.  What stands out more is the sheer hilarity of what I experienced in the two paths I went through.  For the first time in a while, I couldn't restrain my need to laugh hysterically until tears and snot were running down my face... and that alone is a good enough reason to play this game... or at least, that is how I feel.
  3. Like
    ittaku reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Amairo Chocolata   
    This is the second mimikko game from January's releases, a pure moege made by Cabbage Soft, the makers of two other games, both of which I disliked (perfect examples of charage/moege slogs in the sugary and brainless mud).  I can't honestly say that Amairo Chocolata is that different from the company's other games... but I'm willing to forgive a lot for mimikko heroines.
    This game is pretty short, so short I finished it in just under eight hours (it's been a while since I bothered with a game as empty of content that it was this short).  Like most 'pure moege', this game is essentially endlessly cute with no real content beyond cuteness, adorableness, and H-scenes.  That I was able to get through it is a mark of how much my fetishes drive me, but it also brought about a severe response from my old battle scars from years of playing such games.  
    The two heroines in this game are Chieri (the loli catgirl) and Mikuri (the miko doggirl).  Chieri is a straight-out tsundere, whereas Mikuri is a straightforward tennen genkikko heroine.  I can honestly say that there isn't a ton of depth to either of them or the protagonist, and I was more than a little dissatisfied that they focused entirely upon the cafe as the setting.  With some work, it would have been possible to make this game a lot more intimate-feeling and turn both heroines and the two side-characters into something more unique.  Unfortunately, such efforts were severely lacking, meaning that I played this game solely for ears and tails.
  4. Like
    ittaku reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, How to know if you have a true favorite VN   
    People who drop themselves into the abyss of otaku media tend to have their sense for things dull over time.  Action scenes don't excite like they used to, rom-coms aren't as funny, ecchi isn't as hot, and only the densest stories succeed in scratching the itch.  This is what I (and some others) call becoming a 'jaded veteran otaku'.  Jaded veteran otakus often become 'genre specialists' (meaning they only play one type of game, watch one type of anime, and/or refuse to play specific types), and only the most hypocritical have less than ten favorites in their medium. 
    However, how exactly do you tell that a VN (in this case) is one of your favorites?  There are a number of signs.
    1.  Does watching the opening get you excited no matter how many times you've seen it?
    2.  Does a great phrase that shattered your personal gate of tears do so again on a second playthrough?
    3.  Can it still make you giggle?
    4.  Can it still delight you with new discoveries or even only confirming the ones you made the last time you played?
    5.  Does defending it to everyone around you fill you with passion and do you have an intense desire to chain every other VN fan in site to a chair in front of a computer to play/read it?
    6.  Do you find yourself wistfully wondering if you'll ever find anything else like it again?
    7.  Do you feel like a junkie coming down off a great high after you finish it?
    These are just some of the signs of a VN happening to be your favorite... and one of the strange side-effects of being a long-time addict of otaku media is that your favorites become ever more distinct to you as time passes.  I have literally forgotten the contents of more VNs than most people have played, but the ones I love remain in my memory with surprising detail, even after years without playing them.  Not all of my favorites are kamige (in fact, surprisingly few of them are), but to me they are irreplaceable friends similar to the books I can never bring myself to get rid of. 
  5. Like
    ittaku reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Random VN: Primal x Hearts   
    Primal Hearts is a game I have an odd relationship with.  At the time I first played it, I don't think I gave it a completely fair assessment.  The reason why?  I was hitting the first of my many 'charage doldrums' periods.  However, in retrospect, it grew on me... sort of like mold.
    First, I should note that the game is actually fairly old-fashioned, despite its modern visuals.  The wacky concept, larger-than-life characters, and the sometimes ridiculous 'coincidences' that pop in all hearken to a previous era.  At various times, this game channels such famous games as Haruka ni Aogi, Uruwashi no, Majikoi, Shuffle, and any number of 'golden age' games.  Of course, it doesn't go as far as any of those does, but the makers' fanboyism is fairly evident throughout the game on a second playthrough (something I didn't notice on the first playthrough).
    First, the resemblance of Majikoi lies in the larger than life characters and sometimes crazy abilities some of them have (the protagonist included).  The protagonist's casual manipulation of the other characters for his own amusement (and for their own sakes, more often than not) is very much reminiscent of Yamato, without ever actually approaching his level. 
    Perhaps the strongest resemblance to Haruka ni Aogi, Uruwashi no lies in Haruhi's path... to be blunt, Haruhi is a redesigned version of Miyabi, with Kanna a reformed version of Lida who also happens to be a heroine.  The resemblances and relationships are so obviously drawn from fanboyism of that particular kamige that I just had to shake my head during this replay. 
    Shuffle is channeled, along with a lot of other early charage, through the setting.  While the specifics are drastically different, the wacky, overblown occurrences, the general madness surrounding the 'elections', and any number of other factors in the setting make me nostalgic for the middle of last decade (soon to be the decade before last). 
    I perhaps didn't notice all this the last time because I was focused on heroines... and I was playing charage rather mechanically already, two years into VN of the Month.  A peculiar element that you generally don't see in most charage in general is character designs like that of Mizanori.  Most charage tend to make all their regular characters (the ones at the center of the cast) attractive to one degree or another.  However, Mizanori stands out as a character who was made comically unattractive, which struck me as hilarious at the time, since I used to make some of the same excuses he did to eat more as a teenager, lol. 
    The common route of this game is excellent.  The relationships between the characters are formed and deepened appropriately, and it actually makes sense that the heroines would fall for the protagonist by the end.  It helps that the protagonist is really a 'great guy' in every way, though he can lack common sense at times.  The decision to avoid mediocrity in the protagonist and those around him is one that is rarely made in charage, which just made it that much better as a result.
    Sadly, after the common route, this game stumbles somewhat.  The heroine routes lack some of the depth the common route does, perhaps because the shift to romance automatically debuffed the intelligence of the writers.    Oh, the heroines are unbearably cute when they go dere (Sera's dere makes me giggle hysterically even now, and Haruhi's is as strong in its own way), but the 'drama' included in the heroine paths pales a great deal in comparison to the drama that pops up in the common route.  In that sense, it felt almost like they were running out of ideas at the end...
    Overall, this is an excellent charage that manages to escape mediocrity by channeling some of the best parts of a number of famous VNs into its characters and setting.  I won't say it is a kamige (because it isn't), but if you are just looking for a good charage to add to your collection, this is a good choice.
  6. Like
    ittaku reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, A year or so later: My change in outlook   
    Since ceasing VN of the Month, I've been slowly recovering from my years of over-reading VNs, the vast majority of them ones I normally wouldn't have taken an interest in.  While I still play VNs regularly, I do so at a slower pace, reading more conventional literature and playing normal games as much as I do them.
    I recently began to regain some of my VN stamina (though I will never get back to where I was), and I've found that even the SOL VNs I choose to play are far less stressful than before.  It is nice to reconfirm that I truly love VNs, after so many years playing far too many charage threatened to make me hate them. 
    However, I've also noticed that I am far less tolerant of obvious blunders and poor choices on the part of writers, regardless of genre.  When something touches on my pet peeves, I immediately drop the VN, and I lose all urge to play it, often for months after.  This was the case with Sorceress Alive and it is also the case with Raillore to Ryakudatsusha (dameningen protagonists with no interesting or redeeming traits are one of my pet peeves). 
    On the other hand, my stamina for 'sweetness' and 'ichaicha' in a VN has recovered somewhat, and I can play a route in a charage with no troubles... However, I no longer desire to play any routes other than that of my favorite heroine.  I used to mechanically run through all the heroines in a VN without hesitation or slowing down, but now I only go for the one or two heroines that interest me, ignoring the others entirely.
    This change in my own behavior leaves me somewhat bemused, though I can see where it comes from rationally.  I simply got tired of plowing through huge numbers of boring heroines that almost buried the good ones, lol.
  7. Sad
    ittaku reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Venting sorrow: I lost my cat today   
    I love my cat.
    Let’s get that out of the way from the beginning. Even though she is gone, as of today, I have never, for one moment, believed that I would ever stop loving her. For seventeen years and eight months, this calico wonder has made her home in my heart, never failing to wrap me around her paw and jerk me around by my heart strings.
    As the undisputed mistress of all she surveyed (all eleven rooms and corridors of it), she has dominated the lives and conversation of our family for almost long enough for a child to have graduated from high school. In a very real sense, she was one of the most important pillars of our family, and her presence both lightened the atmosphere and gave us something to talk about even in the darkest of times.
    My cat loved people… primarily because she knew a few stares and quiet nuzzles could get any given person to pet her or give her what she believed she wanted at any given moment. She liked being with people, even if it was just in the same room, completely ignoring one another (incidentally, her favorite game).
    In her youth, distant as that is to me now, she was a rambunctious and hyperactive ball of calico fluff, her medium-length fur usually disheveled from one event or another until she chose to let us smooth it out. When we got saltillo tile on the first floor, she could be found with red dust on her belly constantly until it was sealed. When new carpet was put into the master bathroom, she was the first to roll on the floor, and when new furniture was brought into the house, she was always the first to ‘test’ it. Heck, I couldn’t keep her out of my computer chair when I wasn’t sitting in it.
    As she grew older, she retained many of her kitten-ish traits, being enthusiastic and affectionate to often extreme degrees, given our previous experiences with cats. She purred loudly, meowed insistently, ran at ridiculous speeds only to slam into walls, and generally made us laugh and smile.
    When we went out of town, she always made her displeasure known upon our return.
    She was an inside cat, mostly by our choice. While she enjoyed short periods outdoors, she could generally be trusted to want back in whenever her slaves decided to go back in, due to an incident with a coyote in her misspent (I can hear her indignant meow at the thought of her time ever being misspent in my head, even now) youth. If her life was a somewhat boring one by feline standards, she made up for it by being loved and lovable in general.
    When she first became ill, over a year ago, I had my first close encounter with absolute panic. The cat, as we always referred to her (subcontext: Empress) as being, was listless, had lost her appetite, and she had, for some reason, decided that my sink was her new home.
    We took her to the vet, where she was diagnosed as having thyroid problems, as is typical in elderly cats (as she was by this time). We began giving her medicine on a daily basis, and for some time, she was doing relatively better, even if she never quite regained the spunk and vigor of the now-lost past.
    However, a month ago, what vigor had returned to her was rapidly lost. She gradually ceased to eat, began to have bowel problems… and she began to starve to death. The only time she seemed happy was when she was sleeping on one of us, being lightly caressed, comforting herself with her own purrs.
    It was with a heavy heart that we listened to the vet start speaking of quality of life, a typical speech made whenever a loved one nears death… and, our hearts already broken, we eventually assented to euthanasia.
    Less than five hours later, I don’t know if it was the right choice. Was it a mercy, an act of love? Was it a betrayal of the absolute trust one can only gain from an animal when that pet is treated as family? Or was it something in between… I can never know. While I understood many things about my cat, I will never know what she thought on this, her last day, what she felt toward us as she went into the final sleep.
    I will never know. There are so many things about that last day that I will never know. I feel my heart breaking all over again as I write this. I feel the empty feeling of loss. The standard words are no comfort. The euphemisms and trite words of comfort that come out of people’s mouths at times like this feel like excuses and obfuscations. The bitter flavor of grief sours food in my mouth and makes the world a darker place.
    I can’t even make the excuse that she wouldn’t want me to grieve for her… because she is a cat, and no cat would ever miss out on a chance to be the center of attention.
  8. Like
    ittaku reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Heroine wa Tomodachi Desu ka? Koibito Desu ka? Soretomo Tomefure Desu ka?   
    First, for those who are familiar with me... Yes, I did play this.  Why?  Something about the way it was presented in the Getchu page said that there was more hidden beneath the surface than a standard oppai-nukige.  Thankfully, my instinct was correct, in this case.
    Now, for those who are curious, this game is a straight-out harem, from beginning to end.  This game's primary attractions are the comedic reactions of the heroines and the way they and the protagonist slowly 'fall'.  It is like watching a train wreck in slow motion... it is too fascinating to look away from, yet you know it is going to end badly, lol.
    The protagonist, Yuki, is a somewhat hetare-ish guy who does his best to disappear in the classroom and has trouble speaking to others.  One day, out of loneliness, he opens up the Tomefure app, where young guys offer young girls a place to stay for free without strings attached and signs up.  The girl who appears at his door is the class idol, Sakurako, who immediately crushes his hopes (sexual fantasies) and basically does her best to leech off of him, dragging a bunch of other girls into the mix.
    This story is all about a bunch of young people too afraid to create real relationships or who have huge problems in their normal lives essentially huddling together and gradually becoming contaminated with this weird 'small community' Stockholm Syndrome thing.  I spent most of the game laughing or in a state of 'frustration' (yes, that kind of frustration), because the process of Yuki and the girls' morals collapsing takes a long time (despite being a kinetic novel, this game took me almost 20 hours to complete) and actual H and near-romance (there is no true romance in this game) doesn't get going until you are about 7/8 of the way through the game. 
    In terms of writing, the basic quality of the main writer is pretty low.  I'd say he is somewhere below the baseline for charage writers, which is generally bad in any case.  That said, because of the way the 'story' is presented, his lack of writing skills doesn't create as much of a negative effect as it might otherwise, even in a charage. 
    If you want a comedy ecchi harem VN to read, this is probably the best option you can find for the last three years.  The whole thing is so absurd that I couldn't help but laugh out loud (a real lol) on dozens of occasions.  Don't expect 'healthy' romance, since the whole story is based on the characters' gradually losing their common sense morality about relationships as they sleep in the same room (there is more to it, but I won't spoil you).  However, if you don't mind that kind of thing (or if you love it) this game is a fun read.
    PS: Yes, I surprised myself with how much I got into this one.
  9. Like
    ittaku reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Stubbornness and Burnout   
    For those familiar with me, you know I spent year after year doing VN of the Month and that I ritualistically complained about how tired I was of this or that trope or bad habit that plagued the industry or games.  I was asked repeatedly why I could still plow through so many VNs, despite the stress?  The simple answer is that I have always been stubborn as hell.  I've experienced 'burnout' numerous times in my life, mostly because I have a naturally obsessive personality.  Once I start obsessing over something, I literally am incapable of ceasing to do so without something jarring me completely away from it for a time, which usually results in me realizing I burned out long ago and have just been hanging out of stubbornness. 
    The same was the case for VNs.  When I first started playing VNs, all VNs were worth at least trying.  However, as time went on, I increasingly lost interest in most nukige and eventually my interest in 'everyday teenaged life SOL romance' (or 'the standard charage') began to fade.  It was probably about 2016 when this reached the critical point, but it took another year and a two-week bout of flu where I couldn't think well enough to play anything to bump me out of my years-long trance. 
    Part of it was that I rarely, if ever, took a break from VNs during those years.  I was always playing at least one, and I had a tendency to barrel through them consecutively without even a short pause to rest, week after week, month after month.  I used  most of my free time to play them, I structured my work schedule and habits around playing them, and I generally existed solely to do so.
    I dunno how many of you can even imagine what living like that is like... but it was the fact that I am no longer driven to play game after game that is letting me sit back and enjoy the few I actually want to play.  I go back and pull stuff out of my attic on a whim, I dig through my collection based on a desire to relive a single scene, and I generally just take pleasure in playing what I want to play.
    Would it be strange for you to hear that this all feels unnatural to me, after all these years?  I've been playing third-rate charage I didn't want to even see, much less play, for years... and now I only play stuff that takes my interest, dropping them if I don't see any hope for the game to break out of the shell of mediocrity.  I don't feel driven to blog about replays beyond when I feel like it or when I think I have something to add to a previous assessment, and I can actually sit back and enjoy the few charage I actually feel like I want to play.
    While I do have regrets, they aren't about the years spent obsessing and over-playing VNs, despite my previous words.  I set out to do VN of the Month because, at the time, there was no way for people to have an idea of what they were getting into with most VNs.  It was a bit startling how few people were seriously trying to let people know what kind of VNs were out there without spoiling everything from beginning to end.  Even today, most reviewers can't seem to keep heavy spoilers out of the text, which saddens me.  However, I no longer feel that it is my mission to 'fix' this.  I've been there, I've done that, and I won't be doing it again.
    I will still play VNs, and I will still review them (on occasion), but don't expect me to be as prolific as I used to be, lol.
  10. Like
    ittaku reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, The Schools of Charage/Moege harems   
    First, I'm going to state that all charage/moege are harem-ge (with the exception of kinetic novels with only a single heroine).  In all these cases, you have a bevy of heroines that are, at the very least, friendly with or somehow attached to the protagonist.  There are a three standard types of harem that I consider to be general umbrella types.  These harems do not include nukige sex-only harems or the type of harems that pop up in gameplay hybrid VNs, as these often have distinctive story-exclusive reasons for harem formation.
    The Disconnected Harem
    This is the standard-issue harem for modern charage/moege.  In this harem situation, the protagonist is independently connected to most of the heroines, with very little or no interaction between the members of his harem of latent deredere troopers.  The reason this has become the dominant harem in the charage genre in the last seven years or so is because it is the one that is the most 'tasteful' to monogamists and traditionalists.  In this case, the heroines either have no real connection with one another or only weak connections that become tenuous the second the heroine path begins.  Games that have these harems tend to have extremely weak casts of characters in general, and there is usually very little or no real conflict between the characters (low incidence of love triangles, few jealousy attacks, etc).  As a result, games with this type of harem tend to have weak or nonexistent plots, lackluster SOL outside of ichaicha dating, and 'convenient' drama that is resolved so quickly it might as well not even exist.  These harems generally disband at the end of the common route, as the protagonist seems to completely forget any attraction he had to the other girls and they fade into the background.
    The Dominant-Sharing Harem
    The Dominant-sharing Harem is defined by the members of the harem being at least somewhat familiar with each other (often friends, family, or members of a group or club) and able to be cooperative to an extent while competing for the protagonist's love and attention.  Girls in this kind of harem situation (Shuffle is a prime example of it) are ok with the idea of sharing the protagonist in the abstract, but in practice they want to be the 'first wife' or the 'wife' and relegate the other heroines to the mistress or concubine status (though it isn't always stated this bluntly).  This is perhaps the most realistic harem situation, as, historically, real harems - other than royal ones - have usually been structured with a head or first wife and a number of secondary wives, often married with the permission of or by the choice of the first wife, lol. 
    The Everybody's Equal Harem
    The Everybody's Equal Harem is, just as the name indicates, a harem where the protagonist essentially loves and treats all the heroines equally and the heroines accept this situation, albeit often with a tacit understanding between one another that they won't stop aiming for a Dominant-Sharing type situation.  As such, this can often be considered a prelude to a Dominant-Sharing Harem result in practical terms.  A classic example of this would be the end of the Grisaia series or the ending of Strawberry Feels, where the protagonist himself never forms a preference, even if the heroines do build a sort of pecking order based on dominance of personality or circumstance.  Tiny Dungeon's Endless Dungeon ending can also be considered this kind of ending, whereas the individual routes represented by the first three games would be considered Dominant-Sharing harems. 
    Why I bothered with this post
    Anyone who has been an otaku as long as I have been has to accept that harem-thinking is essential to SOL otaku-ism.  As early as Love Hina and Tenchi Muyo, rom-coms have been creating wacky harems and weird situations that result.   This is because romantic comedy is the easiest type of comedy for anyone to get into, and the easiest one to empathize with... and comedy used to be the dominant genre in otaku media (though romance always came a close second). 
    The evolution from that type of loose harem (though in later incarnations, the Tenchi universe threw off all pretense of not being harem-ist) to the current situation took decades, but it was a natural evolution in visual novels in particular, due to the fact that most visual novels are multi-route, heroine-focused affairs.  Charage in particular, with their focus on SOL, inevitably give off a sense that the protagonist is the center of a harem, even if it is only  in the common route.  Since this kind of situation appeals to the more primitive parts of the male psyche (males are genetically predisposed to seeking multiple mates, though socialization and emotional attachment overwhelm this in modern settings), eroge tend to abuse this flagrantly. 
    Oh yeah, if you haven't figured it out, I like harem endings that aren't sex-heavy... but that isn't so much because I have a thing for 'collecting' bishoujos.  Rather, I like the various situations that result in VNs, as they are often intellectually interesting, heart-warming, or hilarious (or all three).  Nukige-style harem endings are boring and make me roll my eyes, mostly because I question whether anyone has that kind of stamina, and because ignoring the emotional and practical aspects entirely like that makes it hard to suspend disbelief.  If a plotge can make me think a harem would work, I want to see it work, lol.
  11. Like
    ittaku reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Why I still haven't given up on VNs.   
    After ten years playing VNs, you would think I would have completely lost faith in them by now, especially considering just how many I've played (744 not counting most of the nukige, replays and incomplete/dropped ones).  Most VNs that aren't nukige are SOL-fests that exist solely to promote nostalgic fantasies about life in high school and getting into bishoujos' pants... not that that is an entirely horrible goal, but it isn't something I want to see five hundred times over.
    The romance is usually puerile and has no relation to reality, the characters have all their hard edges filed away by the needs of the archetype, and drama is used solely to add 'spice' (like one sprinkle of pumpkin spice, not cracked red pepper) to an otherwise endlessly sweet and bland recipe. 
    So how is it that someone who has experienced that much essentially boring and pointless repetition of the same scenarios able to continue to enjoy VNs, even if he can't stand meaningless SOL anymore?
    At one time, it was a sense of duty, a belief that I was doing the community good by digging gems out of the piles of crap that are the SOL genre.  I also had a sense of pride that I made an effort of objectivity that I have literally seen no one else attempt.  I played games no one else bothered with because they didn't have the time or patience, and I did it because I thought someone looking at the games would want to know what they were getting into.
    I paid a price in a growing sense of bitterness, of boredom, and of a sense that I was forgetting the reason why I began to read fiction in the first place.  I paid a price in people continually being trolls and trying to draw me into fights over my opinions on these games.  I had people start reddits and send me pms being sympathetic about the very conversations they'd started (yes that happens). 
    I also had people who respected what I was doing, and I knew there were people in the community who benefited from the fact that I was doing it.  I watched VNs I had pushed get localizations and fantls (usually to my surprise), and I saw others that I had labeled as mediocre get hyped to a ridiculous degree.   I tried to get other people to help with what I was doing, only to find that, without a reading speed similar to mine, it was too much of a burden on their lives and ate up the time to read the VNs they wanted to read. 
    The bad generally outweighed the good immensely while I was doing VN of the Month, and even after, I found that the after-effects of my years of playing games I wasn't interested in personally had left me with scars I was unable to feel while my sense of duty was keeping me going. 
    However, I can say that I still haven't given up on VNs.
    Why? 
    The reason is ridiculously simple and at the same time profound (at least to me).  I love the medium.  For someone who likes an experience that combines the reading, visual input, and music without the need for a lot of input from the one experiencing it, VNs provide a unique storytelling experience.  Books are great for the imagination and can send our souls exploring across landscapes that exist only in our own minds, but VNs provide a more filled-out framework for those who don't necessarily have the imagination to fill in all the gaps on their own, without rotting the imagination to the degree manga and anime do.  I've been able to get people who had trouble reading books into VNs, then led them straight back to books and opened the world of imagination to them.  I've seen people who had begun to feel the otaku community offered nothing more to them come alive again after playing a chuunige or a charage.  I've picked up a random moe-looking VN and found a deep and compelling story that remains within me dozens of times.
    In the end, it is moments, experiences like that that keep me coming back, believing in the possibilities of VNs even now.  It is the desire to find more such experiences that keeps me looking at new releases each month, and it is the belief that those experiences will never entirely vanish that keeps me from condemning the industry as a whole for the way it sabotages itself at times. 
  12. Like
    ittaku reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, My new relationship with SOL   
    If yall haven't guessed (or just read my previous posts) my primary reason for giving up VN of the Month was being buried in SOL... well, that and the fact that playing that many new VNs a month took up too much of my time and left me none for any pursuits beyond work. 
    My immediate realization afterwards was that I quite simply couldn't play SOL games at all for the first few months.   After years of constant overdosing on saccharine fake romance and meaningless conversations that exist only to make you go moe over the heroines, I had simply had enough.  Even now, I literally cannot play a pure SOL game without my body physically rejecting it by putting me to sleep or giving me a headache. 
    After a while, I got to where SOL didn't bother me, as long as I knew there was something beyond it (actual plot of some sort, maybe a little violence or a protagonist I could like).  Unfortunately, that means I can't bring myself to play anything where I see no hint of something beyond the SOL (seishun doesn't count, since that is default).  My most recent experiments (Clochette games) told me that I could still enjoy SOL as long as it was peppered with something interesting.  However, I quickly realized when I tried to play some of the newer games that came out this month... I wanted to vomit after starting several of them.  I literally couldn't stand the obviously standard-issue protagonist, the weak carbon copy heroines, and the dead copies of games that came out years ago. 
    For instance, Sora ni Kizanda Parallelogram was such a blatant attempt to use the nostalgia of both Aokana and Walkure Romanze fans (FD for the former and complete pack for the later came out recently) that it made me want to be sick.  The protagonist's situation and personality were carbon copies of the one from Walkure Romanze, and the situation and setting were partially stolen from Aokana.  Hell, one of the heroines is of the same type as the main heroine from Aokana.  That sent me over the edge, and I sold my copy to a local eroge addict so I wouldn't have to look at the filthy thing again. 
    Worse, a bad copy of Ninki Seiyuu no Tsukurikata came out this month, and I wanted to smash something (I hate games that focus on entertainment industries).  Ugh. 
    *coughs* ahem, now that I got that out of my system, I have to wonder... am I going to have just as violent a reaction next month and the next after?  There are things I used to like about SOL games that I just can't enjoy anymore, and that saddens me deeply...  and my tolerance for blatant and pathetic attempts at milking other companies' games' popularity has gone down to zero, apparently. 
  13. Like
    ittaku reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Clephas' Translated VN recommendations   
    As you can imagine, I got a lot of requests for a similar list over the years, but the thing is, I don't play VNs in English that didn't start out in English.  As such, my recommendations are based entirely on my experience of the Japanese versions of these VNs, rather than the localization.  As such, don't hold me responsible for your personal experiences, lol.  I'm going to split these by genre so I don't have to answer questions along those lines.  For the purposes of fairness, I won't include anything with a machine translation (which means no Chuushingura).
    Chuunige
    I/O (yes, I did indeed play this, and it was good despite being dated horribly)
    FSN (you saw that coming, right?)
    Tsukihime (again, you saw that coming, right?)
    Comyu (fantasy)
    Ayakashibito (fantasy)
    Tokyo Babel (fantasy)
    Dies Irae (fantasy)
    Demonbane (fantasy)
    Sorcery Jokers (fantasy)
    Hello, Lady (upcoming fantasy)
    Hatsuru Koto naki Mirai Yori (upcoming eventually, fantasy)
    Baldr Sky (whenever it comes out (*crosses fingers for your sake* sci-fi)
    Phantom of Inferno (despite all the problems with the localized version it is a great read)
    Muv-Luv Alternative (this one is borderline, because it makes you read two mediocre games prior just to understand it)
    Charage/Moege
    Noble Works
    Majikoi (classified this way as long as you don't include the true/last route)
    Da Capo (the original only, and only because it is wrong not to have the archetypical moege experience at least one time in your VN lifespan)
    Shuffle (truth be told, I'm basing this assessment off of the expanded version, not the version originally released over here)
    Sanoba Witch (Yuzu-soft and thus predictably overdone with the ichaicha since this is one of their less plotge-style ones)
    Dracu-riot (Wait until an official release comes out.  The patch currently floating around is a nonentity in comparison)
    Senren Banka (Sadly not out yet, but something to look forward to)
    Chrono Clock (I listed it in this one rather than plotge because the 'plot' was a bit too thin)
    Akatsuki no Goei (the original falls, barely, into this category, despite some seriously disturbing shit involving Kaito's origin story that was dropped here and there and the dystopian nature of the setting.  Fan patch will probably be released next year)
    Tsujidou-san no Jun'ai Road (yes, I put this here)
    Note: For those who wonder why my list is sparse on a lot of names beloved by those who play localized games obsessively... you do realize that a lot of the charage that get released over here are from the bottom of the pile, right?
    Nakige
    Hapymaher (probably my biggest recommendation for this genre)
    Haruka ni Aogi, Uruwashi no (for the distant future, something to look forward to)
    AstralAir no Shiroki Towa (whenever it releases)
    Hoshizora no Memoria (yes, I recommend it, lol)
    Irotoridori no Sekai (Eventually.  And again, more Favorite... despite the fact that its staff idolize mysterious lolis)
    Koi ga Saku Koro Sakura doki (I was insanely surprised that this got localized at the time, considering the normal sluggishness of localization at the time)
    Plotge
    Koisuru Otome to Shugo no Tate (partial with two routes done.  Definitely worth reading, if only to get an idea of what AXL is like)
    Cross Channel (weirdly, I've always had a fondness for this game and its clinically insane protagonist)
    Yume Miru Kusuri (yes, I played it.  Yes, I liked it)
    Boku ga Tenshi ni Natta Wake (no idea when this will come out... but definitely a recommendation, for all the screwy shit that happens in it)
    Nanairo Reincarnation (upcoming soon hopefully for you, since that would mean two kamige releases in two years, lol)
    Hello,Goodbye (this was a possible for chuunige, but I put it here.  This will supposedly release before the end of the year, but I'm guessing March)
    Gameplay Hybrid
    Eien no Aselia
    Seinarukana
    Ar Tonelico
    Ar Tonelico 2 (this and the one above can only be considered to be borderline VNs in an odd way, because they are mostly jrpgs with a few VN elements)
    Note: I don't include anything Eushully, because none of the good ones have a translation that isn't a machine one.
  14. Like
    ittaku reacted to Zakamutt for a blog entry, Translation by example #1: わた死   
    I recommend reading this one on my blog as forum formatting makes tables look like shite. Your choice though.
    I’ve mentioned earlier that I think one of the reasons there haven’t been a lot of translation blogs on Fuwanovel is that a lot of advice the editing blogs are peddling could equally well be applied when translating. But how would that look? In this blog (and maybe series, but me and regular effort don’t tend to get along), I’ll try to show you the process of translating with an eye to using the structure of English writing rather than following the Japanese.
    The great thing about being the translator rather than the editor (or editing while knowing Japanese, but that’s a luxury) is that you don’t have to go ask the translator if the structure of the Japanese prose, when copied, looks weird. You can just make the adjustment yourself, without worrying that you’re distorting the original meaning too much.
    This post is primarily aimed at translators, but should hopefully be useful for editors as well. It is probable that some of the patterns shown here could just as well have been picked up by an editing blog; the main difference will be that I can also show how it looks in Japanese.
    I am by no means perfect, and any comments or suggestions are appreciated.
    In the spirit of leading by example, I’ll be quoting my in-occasional-progress translation of 私は今日ここで死にます (Watashi wa Kyou Koko de Shinimasu; ‘This is where I die today’). Me and Asonn have settled on the shorthand “shinimasu”, but the author’s comments actually use わた死 (“Watashi” with the last syllable using the kanji for ‘death’ that appears in “Shinimasu”). Thus the title.
    Let’s start with three lines from the very beginning of the novel. Our protagonist 京介 (Kyousuke) has just seen a girl jump off a bridge, gone after her by jumping himself, and managed to get her out of the river and onto land. The reader doesn’t know this yet, however – the start just talks about what you’d do if you saw someone about to kill themselves.
    Japanese Literalish translation Adapted translation 「入水自殺、か」 “Suicide by drowning, huh.” “Tried to drown yourself, huh…” ぽつりと呟きつつ、腕の中でぐったりとしている“それ”を見る。 While mumbling a few words in a staccato manner, I look at “that” resting limply in my arms. I look at the girl resting limply in my arms. まだあどけない顔をした少女だ。 It is a girl with a face that is yet cherubic*. Face innocent as a newborn babe’s. The adaptated first line is based on trying to get nuance right. While I mostly did it on instinct, we can motivate it more logically. In English, the literal version feels like something you’d say when starting to talk about a topic – I’d expect Kyou-boi to expound on the subject of suicide by drowning afterward. But in context he’s commenting on the specific act the girl in his arms has attempted. Another consideration is brought by the second line, which shows that Kyousuke is looking at said girl while saying this. So we’re looking for a line that sounds reasonable spoken to a person that can’t hear it. Which is a weird category now that I think of it, but not entirely uncommon. The ellipsis is questionable, especially when cutting ellipses is something editors do all the time in j>e translation, but I have a reason; it’ll be in the next line analysis.
    The second line features a thing frequently found in Japanese visual novel writing that doesn’t really agree with English style conventions at all: describing speech after it’s already been said. Frequently this is entirely redundant information in a visual novel due to speaker tags, but in some cases it will contain some kind of judgement or opinion of the viewpoint character that you might want to preserve. These kinds of redundant lines is a good reason to ask whoever’s doing technical work on your translation if you can just plain remove lines (for example, they might be able to program something that detects the translated line being exactly “SKIP” and cuts those lines.) However, it should be noted that cutting these redundant lines will change the flow of a text. If it’s frequently used in a passage, you may end up with a very different feel than the Japanese ― perhaps this is worth it, but it’s something to take into consideration. わた死 doesn’t do this that frequently, however, so we probably don’t need to worry.
    This gives a bit of motivation for adding the ellipsis in line #1; it makes the line more mutter-y in a way that doesn’t make it look weird. This is one strategy for dealing with structural incompatibility: move the piece of information where it does fit.
    There’s more. The line doesn’t mention “that” being a girl, revealing this in the next line. I’m not sure why the author did this -maybe the lines read better in Japanese that way, and Japanese lines in succession often depend on each other - but the technique just looks weird in English. Thus, we move the information from line 3 to line 2 in our adaptation.
    The third line is annoying because while we technically do have a word that fits あどけない fairly well, cherubic - angelic, innocent, and youthful - few people are likely to know it and it doesn’t really fit the register the Japanese word uses. As such I’ve tried to reword it, though honestly I’m not really satisfied. I’m also not entirely sure if I’m missing a nuance of まだ (yet in the literalish translation) I should be getting; it’s probably just consonant with あどけない as “still looking young”, but it could also be referring to her state of unconsciousness causing it or something. The next line that I’m not showing talks about her looking young for her age though, so we can at least use that. The other thing of structural interest is that we’ve moved the “girl” piece of information to the second line, as mentioned.
    …Man this took a while and I only did three lines. I think I’m just going to post. Like, comment, watch the Shinimasu translation progress here, design a double-sided daki with both Yukas on it for me if you’re feeling generous.
    As a bonus, have a few other examples of describing things after-the-fact and how I’ve currently handled them:

    As you can see the pattern isn’t limited to just speech. Here I decide to go IN and use context to write a line half new.

    Another thinking version.

    And here’s one with 返す. Also this has mixed speech and narration, which I’ve tried to work into the English as well. Though I’m going to go change this to present tense now since I picked that later, fuck.
     
    View the full article
     
  15. Like
    ittaku reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, SoulSet (Western VN Review)   
    Note: I was provided with a free review copy of this game by the developer. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.
    The multi-route mystery VN is not a format easy to pull off properly and for that reason not many EVN developers even attempt to tackle it. It requires creating a number of paths and characters, all interesting on their own and complementary to each other, while also keeping the overall quality high enough to motivate the reader to go through all of it in order to piece together the overarching story. This is both a challenge from the writing perspective and requires a fairly substantial amount of content to communicate the mystery effectively – usually, more than an average Western visual novel can provide with the humble resources at its creators' disposal. 
                Still, all this makes exploring the few examples of such games done right by Western devs that more interesting. SoulSet, developed by NoBreadStudio and released on Steam in late 2016 is a particularly “orthodox” implementation of the formula, with every route and ending (including bad ones) adding to your understanding of the story and culminating in an unlockable “true route”, which resolves the crucial mysteries and tie all the previous paths together. It’s also, as I will try to argue, a damn fine game that positively stands out in the EVN market, in a few ways.
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  16. Like
    ittaku reacted to sanahtlig for a blog entry, Kagura Games commits to uncensored releases after fan backlash   
    Staggered by fan backlash over its censorship of President Yukino, Kagura Games has partnered with JAST and MangaGamer to provide uncensored releases.
    Kagura Games commits to uncensored releases after fan backlash
  17. Like
    ittaku reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Wagamama High Spec   
    First, despite the way moege fans fawn over the first two VNs by Madosoft, they are perfect examples of absolute mediocrity in charage.  That isn't to say they didn't have good points... the visual aspects of this company's VNs are on the higher end of things in the charage part of the VN industry.  However, they were basically slogs through WWI-style trenches full of mud made from ichaicha... and one of my  pet peeves is writers who pump in endless ichaicha.  I personally see them as kusoge, due to the fact that I dropped Namaiki after one path (didn't vote on it) and Yakimochi was a nightmare of a substance-free ball of cotton candy.
    I was kind of exasperated that this VN had an anime come out beforehand, and to be honest, I avoided that anime like the plague specifically so it wouldn't color my attitude on this one.  Considering how much the sexual aspect colors the relationships with the heroines in their paths, I am mildly curious as to how they handled the latter part of the series, though.
    One thing all the paths in this VN have in common is that the protagonist falls apart completely at least once in all of them.  I'll be perfectly straight with you... if it weren't for the fact that he was so obviously fragile mentally in the first place, I probably would have been a lot more pissed off about this aspect.  That tendency toward tunnel vision when stressed is pretty common in charage protags, but it does get tiring at times.
    The common route in this VN is fairly good...  especially since the protagonist actually has a personality and a role other than as the donkan harem protagonist.  I did think that it was insane to consider anyone other than Towa (the imouto) a heroine at all after a few hours (I love stories of twisted mutual dependence), but I went straight for Aashe first, simply because I'm too perverse to go for the heroine I most want from the beginning.  On the other side, Kaoruko and Mihiro are both heroine types I really and sincerely am bored of... the immensely capable school council president who acts like an airhead (I hate airheads) and the osananajimi (sort-of) heroine.  Understand, when I hear the words 'osananajimi heroine', I am almost instantly consumed by hatred and the heroine in question starts from a negative point.  
    Aashe's path was a good experience.  While it did feel a bit obvious when it came to the drama (the foreshadowing was overly blatant), that wasn't so bad  a stumble that the path didn't manage to recover... at least somewhat.  This is a problem that was somewhat endemic to all the paths. I liked the ending, as well as the solution the protagonist settled on.  However, I felt that the end didn't move far enough ahead in time (this VN seriously needs a story fandisc to round out the endings), and that was somewhat of a downer.
    The little sister's path was pretty good in this one.  In recent years, little sister paths have mostly been perfunctory, with none of the seriously twisted stuff you tend to see with the dependence that usually creates (consensual) incestuous relationships.  I do feel that they should have included the parental issues into the main VN, rather than making them a background setting.  However, the drama that comes up in the path is emotional enough to be satisfying.  Towa is a great dependent imouto character, and I had to laugh at how easily they transitioned (seriously, it is pretty hilarious).  The fact that they actually managed to take it from there to a really emotional piece of drama near the end was a demonstration of surprising skill.  Again, the big downside was the fact that they really, seriously didn't focus on the issues the protagonist and his sister had with their parents, except in a ridiculously indirect and matter-of-fact fashion.   This is a perfect example of 'failing to milk the setting', and it is a common flaw when it comes to charage-makers (most of them have a tendency to obsessively avoid introducing new or extra characters in heroine paths). 
    Kaoruko is the obvious 'main heroine' of the story, and accordingly, it was given the most love by the writer.   The humor and ichaicha are both on a higher level than the other paths (which means it was given more love, given the specialty of charage writers is humor and ichaicha), to the point where I actually broke into real-life lol situations several times midway through.  Unfortunately, the drama in this path is surprisingly... dull compared to the others (this is actually common with charage writers, who seem to like giving their main heroines smooth rides).  I was made a bit sad by this... but the writer's love was shown fairly clearly again in the ending, which is based a pretty long time after the end of the main story and talks about a lot of the details about how they arrived there.
    I'm going to be blunt.  I don't have the energy to play Mihiro's path now or any time soon.  She is a great friend character who is frequently amusing... but by that same tone, she is the type of character who makes a horrible transition to the 'heroine' role.  I honestly can't see any non-awkward way in which they would move her into the heroine position, and I honestly don't want her as a heroine, so I'll leave it to someone else to bother with her.
    Overall, this is by far the best of Madosoft's three VNs released so far... but it is no kamige.  It does, however, manage to fulfill the requirements for a VN of the Month candidate, in that it both stimulates the emotions, the intellect, and my sense of humor... even if no two of them is strongly stimulated in any given path, lol.  Unfortunately, it just barely puts its fingernails on the edge of candidacy, so anything even reasonably good could blow it out of the water with little trouble, lol.
  18. Like
    ittaku reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, A VN of the Month Announcement   
    I've been considering this for some time, but it has suddenly become a reality.
    To be blunt, I've come to my limit when it comes to playing pure SOL games.  Oh, I can still enjoy many of them, but if you asked me whether I can look at them without my resentment of 'normal' SOL content blinding me, the answer is no.  If I have to read through one more template date scene or see another osananajimi climb through the window from next door, I'm going to start tearing out the last remaining hairs atop my head.
    *coughs* Ahem, now that I've got that out, it needs to be said that I've been doing this since September of 2012... a ridiculous amount of time to be playing roughly 80% of all non-nukige VNs that come out (I'm figuring those I dropped or just couldn't play because they were just that bad into the twenty percent). 
    Just to be clear, I will still continue to play VNs and comment on/review them in this blog.  However, I will no longer play as many outside my tastes, nor will I go out of my way to seek gems from companies I hate reading from. 
    I realized while I was playing Koisaku (Ensemble's latest game), that a few years ago, I would have read this game without any real problems, and I wouldn't even have blinked at the crap that now drives me up the wall.  Oh sure, Ensemble's base quality has fallen massively, but when I took a step back, this is actually one of the better amongst their more recent games, with plenty of indications of real stories for the heroines in the background.  However, I found I just couldn't tolerate it.
    It hit me in the date scene that occurs in the common route... I have no tolerance for date scenes at all anymore.  Scenes like that exist for every heroine in every SOL VN, and they all turn out in almost an identical fashion.  Reading it, even though it was basically a 'friend date', was like dragging my brain through mud.  I just couldn't do it.
    I promised myself that I wouldn't BS myself on this particular matter years ago... and I knew the limit was coming.  I just didn't realize that it would be this soon.
    So, I have to announce that this is the end of my VN of the Month column.  Now, all that remains is my Random VNs and whatever VNs I choose to play each month.
    I will continue to play what I'm interested in, and that will probably include slice-of-life at times.  However, I will no longer play SOL out of a sense of duty to my readers. 
    My original reasons for starting VN of the Month
    When I first started Clephas' VN of the Month, it was because vndb gives nothing to you for info on their games beyond poor tls of the game summary from Getchu, character profiles, and sometimes tags (that might or might not be accurate).  I felt that that didn't do most games justice, and I hated the way I had to go into a game blind on so many occasions.  As such, I started putting up commentaries on just what kind of VN I was playing, with few or no spoilers.  This was a need that, at the time, was not being fulfilled (and as far as I know, still isn't, since most reviewers include major spoilers because they are inconsiderate). 
    Over time, my routine each month started with figuring out which games weren't nukige and which I would play first...  and picking out which one was the best after I played them (the latter of course being entirely a matter of my opinion, informed as it might be). 
    However, it is time to set down my burden.  I tried handing off my work to others, and that worked for a while (thanks to @Dergonu@fun2novel@BookwormOtaku@Kiriririri for their help over the last year - yes, even you, Kiriririri).  In the end, though, I'm just one man... and one middle-aged man with increasingly bad health isn't going to be able to keep this up any longer.  Heck, I'm amazed i kept going this long.
    I do hope someone else takes up the torch of at least informing people of what to expect in newer games (and not just the ones from popular companies), but that isn't my job anymore. 
    Thanks for reading,
    Clephas
     
  19. Like
    ittaku reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, The worst and most poorly-used Tropes in VNs   
    I've raved on tropes before.  Many times.  However, as I have also said many times before, tropes and stereotypes do have an important place in fiction of all sorts.  The important part is to balance the use of tropes to create something interesting and unique, rather than just using them to copy a previous work or works.
    1.  The 'standardized' voiceless protagonist- For better or worse, there was a long period of time when VN protagonists outside of chuunige were forbidden by industry custom (unspoken, unmentioned) to have a personality beyond the standard 'nice guy, dense, harem-building' protagonist with no voice-acting.  I'm going to be straight with yall... this kind of protagonist is a long-standing attempt to create a convenient means for self-insertion into a situation, because his personality is nonexistent, he has no voice of his own, and in some cases you can even name him.  Obliterating the individuality of the protagonist became a common tool in VNs around the turn of the century, even as story-focused VNs became more and more distinct from their nukige and moege brethren.  This protagonist is an outdated, absolutely worthless relic of a time where people had forgotten the cardinal rule of interesting fiction... a boring point of view makes for a boring game.
    2.  The osananajimi heroine- Unlike the standardized protagonist, this particular trope is not evil in and of itself... it is simply misused on a massive scale in VNs.  When used properly, the osananajimi heroine frequently becomes the most attractive of the heroines, her depth of character far outweighing that of even a well-designed protagonist (Kagome from Comyu,  Selma from Bullet Butlers, Suzu from Ayakashibito, etc).  However, when misused, an osananajimi heroine is simply an excuse for laziness in character development.  I don't know how many times I've run into osananajimi heroines who had an easy relationship with the protagonist but absolutely no depth of character, no past episodes of interest, and no really deep connections to make you want to make them the protagonist's lover.  I'm sorry, but a decade of hidden puppy love is not sufficient for me to take an interest in a heroine (incidentally the most common osananajimi heroine setting).  Moreover, such heroines almost always have that stupid 'transfer from friends to lovers' issue pop up... and it is basically a similar issue to that of the sister to lover one, on a smaller scale (and without the delicious fragrance of immorality to make it interesting).
    3.  The 'week-later' ending- This is a type of ending/epilogue that pops up that ends a very short period of time after the climax of a path or story.  Charage in particular tend to use this type of ending, because they want to be able to put out a FD to milk the fanbase later if the game turns out to be popular.  These endings fail to provide the closure the reader desires, and it leaves you at loose ends in the wake of the story.  If you love the characters of a story, don't you want to see what their lives are like down the road?  I hate to say it, but by the end of the average charage, the reader is generally bored of school life and wants to move on.  This type of ending is always a huge let-down, especially for readers like me.
    4.  Slice-of-life as an end rather than a means- Slice-of-life is something that has become inescapable in non-nukige VNs, for the most part.  That, in and of itself, is not that much of a problem.  If you want to get to know a character, there is nothing like seeing a bit of their life outside a stressful situation to give you an idea of who they are.  However, there is nothing more boring than a game that doesn't have any conflict, which is slice-of-life from beginning to end, with no rough spots or speed bumps to make things a bit 'spicier'.  My problem with this is that slice-of-life for the sake of slice-of-life has become a trope in and of itself, which means there are enough VNs out there of that type to make it easy to consider it to be such.
    5.  The TSUNDERE- Yes, I went there.  Despite the efforts of an entire decade of otakus, the tsundere still hasn't died.  The tsundere is a character who acts negatively on the surface toward someone but cares for them underneath, to put it simply.  Around the turn of the century, tsundere heroines became a huge boom in anime, manga, and VNs, starting with the violent tsundere and moving on to the Taiga-chan 'barking dog' style, then finally into more and more varied types that plagued otaku media like a virus.   My problem with tsunderes is that more than ninety-percent of them literally don't have a reason - personality-wise or otherwise - to be tsundere.  These characters unnaturally react to the protagonist or other characters, and they don't have a reason to do so.  To be blunt, this type of behavior pattern got old long ago... and yet otaku media creators inevitably include a tsundere in almost everything produced.
    6.  Teenaged characters- Primarily due to the moege genre and its influences, better than ninety-percent of VNs made today consist entirely of young people as main characters.  I have to say this... I'm seriously tired of every protagonist and heroine being a kid.  At the very least, I'd like to see a larger percentage of youthful adult protagonists, for a change.
    7.  School-life setting - Sorry, I'm tired of having to experience kids wasting their youth.  In particular, my biggest bone to pick with a lot of protagonists is that happy-go-lucky tendency to forget about planning for the future.  School-life consists a very small portion of the average human's lifetime.  It might be a time many are nostalgic for, but I honestly can't take an interest in it anymore. 
    There are others, but these are the ones that come to mind immediately, lol.
     
  20. Like
    ittaku reacted to Fred the Barber for a blog entry, Readability And Eliminating Unintentional Ambiguity: That's Where It Starts   
    Ambiguity is a fascinating element of language, one an editor both struggles with and celebrates regularly. On the celebration side of things, ambiguity is an essential tool in the setup of a lot of short jokes, for one. As an example, an ambiguous statement leads to a misunderstanding, and in a VN said misunderstanding usually leads to an accidental love confession, resulting in the unfortunate victim stammering outrageously while blushing like a sunset. How cute. Ambiguity can also be a powerful tool in foreshadowing, since it allows a single statement to be interpreted in two ways, of which one can be applicable to the immediate present, thus making it a perfectly reasonable line to have in the present, and the other only meaningful when considering future events, usually causing the reader to look back and say, "Ahh-hah, now I see what it really meant." Ambiguity is also absolutely essential in writing clever blog post titles. But on the struggling side, ambiguity is often an enemy getting in the way of your reader enjoying your text.
    As you read, your brain furiously analyzes words as they come in, building up and tearing down many possible syntactical structures for the sentence and many possible semantic interpretations of the various words and phrases, before eventually trimming this all down to a single interpretation of the sentence, typically over the course of a tiny fraction of a second. However, there are many stumbling blocks which can lengthen this process or thwart it entirely, notably including actual errors (misspellings, dropped words, incorrect grammar, etc.,), which is probably the chief reason why such errors are so frowned-upon in typical writing. Slowing down the reader's understanding, or preventing it entirely, is generally not the author's goal, assuming said author is not James Joyce.
    Setting aside actual errors, ambiguity is one of the main impediments to a reader's understanding. Since one of a VN editor's chief goals is to ensure a script flows well for a reader, eliminating unintentional ambiguity is an important sub-goal. Even outside of intentional usage like in the cases mentioned in the first paragraph, ambiguity in English is still incredibly common, with small ambiguities cropping up constantly while reading essentially any text. Let's take a look at an example of a super-small ambiguity which slows down the reader just a tiny bit, a sentence containing my least favorite word:
    Looks fine, right? As a whole the sentence is totally unambiguous. But while you're reading it, you're going to run into "that", and "that"'s a problem. "That" is an incredibly flexible word in the English language: it's a pronoun, a determiner, an adverb, and a relative pronoun. It's actually even more flexible in British English, where it can act as a subordinating conjunction, and even though most VN translations are written in American English, the lines there are pretty fuzzy, and it wouldn't be surprising or confusing to see a sentence like "He asked that she go" in a VN.
    Now, in the sentence above, "that" is being used as a relative pronoun, but the prefix of this sentence, "I told you that" is also a perfectly well-formed English sentence in which it's instead being used as a pronoun, and if your brain follows such an interpretation immediately as you read the sentence, it'll take it a few extra milliseconds for your brain to unwedge itself, reorganize into treating "that" as a relative pronoun, and continue on forming the correct interpretation.
    All right, doesn't sound like a big deal, does it? You're right. This particular, single instance isn't. But they add up, and you can do better, so you might as well. To put it in super technical jargon I didn't know until I was writing up this post, English has a so-called "zero relative pronoun" which can be used in place of relative pronouns like "that" which are introducing restrictive relative clauses. To give an example, since the previous jargon is so technical as to be basically useless, instead of the above sentence, you can just drop "that" and write:
    Now, look, I'm not saying this makes a huge difference, but doesn't this version feel a tiny bit better when you read it? Eliminating usage of overly-flexible words like "that" is a good way to reduce some ambiguity, but keep in mind this is a single example of a specific case. It just happened to be the one which prompted this blog post. However, I assure you, if you start reading your work with a careful eye out for the clarity of each line, you'll find tons of small, unintentional ambiguities popping out at you which you want to correct. Training yourself to look for them and to clean them up is one part of helping your text flow better.
    I guess that's that. I hope you got something out of that, and I ask that, if you have questions, comments, or problems regarding this or "that", you leave a note below to that effect.
  21. Like
    ittaku reacted to Fred the Barber for a blog entry, What Is Editing? (baby don't hurt me)   
    My blog posts so far have mostly been about how to edit. That holds true for most every other VN editing blog I've ever seen as well. But I'm a really big believer in approaching any significant task from a "Why, What, How" perspective. So now, let's try to answer those first two questions.
    Even "What Is Editing" would be starting in too far (it made for a better title, so sue me). Let's start with this: why do translation projects, or even original fiction projects like novels, have editors?
     
    The goal of editing is to help the author achieve their goals.
    An author brings a whole lot of goals to the table: a story, characters with personalities and motivations, a setting, overarching motifs, style, ... probably a lot of other stuff I forgot. Anyway, you get the idea; there's a lot there which they're just trying to get out on paper (or bits, or whatever) and then into your brain.
    An editor doesn't bring any of that stuff. An editor instead strives to understand all of these things the author wants to communicate, finds the points where they can be better achieved, and refines the text to better achieve the author's goals. Although there's obviously some overlap, there are quite different skill sets involved in the raw writing and the editing, and thus the two roles are often fulfilled by two people.
    How about for a translated VN, rather than for, say, writing a novel? The story is roughly the same, actually. Although the translator has essentially the same goals as the editor in this case, the skill sets required are quite different, and thus differentiating the two roles is not uncommon and frequently beneficial to the project, for the same reasons as it is with original writing and editing.
    I'll also add that an original writer is usually considered "too close" to the original text to make a good editor. Even a writer who is also a great editor will benefit from having someone else edit their manuscript. I haven't heard the same thing said of translators, though, so that might not be relevant to this special case. But the skill set differentiation point still stands in the case of translation.
    Assuming you're satisfied with that explanation for Why, let's move on to What.
    Professional manuscript editing typically distinguishes four kinds of editing: developmental editing, line editing, copy editing, and proofreading. Those are ordered based on both the scope of changes they make, and also the chronological order in which you should do them: developmental editing is very macroscopic and happens first, while proofreading is very microscopic and happens last. Let's drill into each:
     
    Developmental Editing
    Developmental editing is, first, the act of identifying all of those authorial goals I mentioned, and second the act of cutting, rearranging, and adding large chunks (think: add this whole new scene, cut that whole character) in order to advance the author's goals.
    Obviously, that second half isn't applicable to VN translation. You're not going to cut whole scenes or change how characters behave. Those decisions have already long since been made by the original writers, hopefully with the help of an editor of their own ;).
    But the first half is essential, and is quite a bit harder in VN translation, since you generally can't actually talk to the writer. Read it all, understand the authorial goals, and build a strong, consistent interpretation of the plot, the characters, the motifs, the setting, the tone, everything you can think of. If you don't form an interpretation while translating/editing, you're liable to thwart the author's goals as part of your translation, and as a result accidentally obscure or entirely lose key points of the original intent. Of course, you'll occasionally make mistakes in your interpretation, resulting in mistakes in translation. But if you don't even form an interpretation, the result will actually be worse: you'll still make mistakes in the translation, and the resulting translation will certainly be internally inconsistent, but you won't notice those internal inconsistencies because you have no guiding interpretation. If you form a consistent interpretation and let it guide your translation, when the text goes against your interpretation, the resulting inconsistency means you'll notice it, correct your interpretation, and then go back and modify your translation to fit the corrected interpretation.
     
    Line Editing
    Line editing is about assessing and fixing the flow of a scene and the flow of a line. It's about logic, language, word choice, rhythm, the mechanics of a sentence, and the sound of human speech. It is not concerned with grammatical errors, punctuation, and spelling, but more with higher-level ideas like tone, emotion, and atmosphere. A line editor worries whether a sentence ought to be punchy or loquacious, not whether it has all the commas in all the right places.
    "Logic" probably seemed a bit out of place there, so let me give an example for that one in particular, since it's essential. For example, unless you're editing the VN equivalent of a Beckett play (and if you are, please point me to that VN, because I'm interested), one dialog line should generally be a logical response to the previous one. A canny line editor will ensure the logical flow from event to event, line to line, and even scene to scene, ensuring consistency of the narration.
    This is also where all that authorial intent mentioned above comes into play: an editor in this capacity should also be ensuring consistency of a line with those overarching goals. A good line editor will help ensure that characterization is consistent, for instance, or that a motif is not buried inappropriately. An editor, in their avatar as the keeper of consistency, is crucial to achieving those authorial goals.
    The prose side of line editing is also key simply because stilted speech, unnatural utterances, redundant repetition, awkward alliteration, and their ilk all kick you out of the immersion. Your brain wants to keep reading something when it flows well. And nothing hits softer than shitty prose.
    Line editing is the meat of VN editing. It's what most existing VN editing blogs are about, not coincidentally. If you're an editor for a VN, line editing is what you should be thinking about constantly.
    In addition to recommending other VN editing blogs, notably Darbury's blog (mostly about line editing, though all the punctuation ones are more about copy editing) and Moogy's now-ancient blog post (basically all about line editing), I'll also suggest you go read up on line editing in a general setting. A quick search for "what is line editing" will lead you to mountains of useful links. As a random example, this is one such useful link, and it's hilarious, well-written, and edifying: http://www.thereviewreview.net/publishing-tips/short-course-line-editing. There is a veritable sea of such articles on the internet. Read them.
     
    Copy Editing
    Copy editing is about the nuts and bolts of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. It's not the same as proofreading, but it's getting close. The copy editor typically should select and enforce an appropriate style manual (AP, Chicago, MLA, take your pick). The copy editor is the person who gets mad when you write "I baked 7 blackbirds into that pie." instead of "I baked seven blackbirds into that pie.", and who calmly, patiently replaces all your misused hyphens in the middle of sentences with em-dashes.
    You're unlikely to have a dedicated copy editor on a VN project; if you've got the "editor" role, you're probably it. I think this is along the lines of what most people think of already when they hear "editing" anyway, but really the line editing is the most important to the enjoyment of the text. Still, the picky people among us can get awfully uppity if you start putting in stuff like ellipses with four dots and inconsistent use of the Oxford comma (sidebar for the attentive: I'm for it, as you've already noticed). Copy editing is a particularly thankless job, since it's not like you can do an exceptional job of copy editing and really salvage a bad manuscript, but poor copy editing can certainly hurt an otherwise-good manuscript. So it's worth investing the time in doing it carefully.
    One important recommendation for copy editing: take notes and build up a style document and glossary for your VN as you go. Are honorifics being used? What about name order? If you're going to romanize some words, is your romanization consistent? Do you 1) always write "senpai", 2) always write "sempai", or 3) mix and match? I don't care if it's 1 or 2, but it better not be 3. Write conventions like this in a shared document and make sure everybody knows about the conventions and the document.
     
    Proofreading
    Proofreading is the final stage of this pipeline. The role includes checking for grammatical errors, spelling errors, punctuation errors, typos, and perhaps some more exotic things like incorrect English dialect. It's straightforward and mechanical. Like copy editing, it is essentially thankless. It is, nonetheless, important. While you're making big sweeping edits doing all the stuff above, you're going to create tons of errors at this level. They need to be fixed. Make sure you have someone (preferably not the "editor", because they're too close to the text) do a proofreading sweep. You can lump it into QC if you like, but make sure that whoever is assigned to do this is looking at it carefully. Check. Every. Single. Word. There are errors in there, I guarantee you, and they're embarrassing. Getting the number of errors down to near-zero before you release your translation is going to make both you and your audience happier.
     
     
    In Summary
    There's not one editor; there are four. In an ideal world, with original fiction, you'd actually have someone separate filling each role. For a translation you don't need a developmental editor, leaving you needing three editors. In the non-ideal world you live in, you've probably got at least two of those roles to yourself. Push for someone else to handle proofreading, at least (call it "QC" if you have to), and make sure said person has the necessary ability and attention to detail. If you're the "editor", then you're almost certainly doing both line editing and copy editing. When that happens, make sure you keep a balance amongst all the things you need to do: for instance, spend 10% of your effort trying to understand what the author is trying to achieve, 88% of your effort on line editing (it's the meat, after all), and 2% on copy editing the little details like punctuation, romanization, etc.
     
    And If You Can Only Remember One Thing
    Focus on line editing.
  22. Like
    ittaku reacted to Fred the Barber for a blog entry, Adventures In Textual Analysis   
    Sometimes, something lands on your plate that makes no sense. If you're lucky, it may be a single line that makes no sense as it is written, but you can figure it out and fix it from context. If you're unlucky, it might be a whole passage that doesn't fit together quite right, or something that just doesn't hang together to present a consistent plot. As the editor, it's your responsibility to turn that line or passage into something that makes sense. Sometimes you can manage it yourself with enough brainpower. Sometimes you should ask the original translator, another editor, another translator, or a TLC to help, if you simply cannot hit on an obviously-correct, logical interpretation. Ultimately, though, you are responsible for seeing it through. You have to land that joke. Nobody else is going to do it for you.
    I present to you the following independent, unimportant passage from the raw To Heart 2 translation. This is one of the night scenes, which are mostly short throwaway gags featuring the protagonist, at home alone, being silly. Full context for this scene: the protagonist can't sleep and has picked a 'difficult book' off his shelf to try to put himself to sleep.

    Wat
    What all needs to be done here:
    The joke doesn't make sense (at least, it doesn't to me; you might be smarter than I am and able to get it immediately). There's some Engrish to be cleaned up (That "What what...?" line, especially, which sounds like it's straight from an old hip-hop song, not the utterance of a donkan harem protagonist about to read a book on special relativity), and there's ample opportunity to make the phrasing more natural. Once the nature of the joke is understood, it turns out its timing can probably be improved as well. It actually took me a couple of rewrites before I finally grasped the nature of the joke, and then I was able to both clean up the language and land it properly. It's frankly still not all that funny, but hey, a not-that-funny joke is still better than nonsense.
    Okay, much more readable, and I think you can actually understand the joke when reading it (you can, right? please tell me you can.). Aside from making it understandable:
    I deferred the idiotic non sequitur to the last line of the text-within-the-text, since it's the setup for the punchline on the last line and I wanted to get them closer together, since any time between these two is time people will spend being confused. Being a geek, I also decided to add a little more to the special relativity explanation to try to make it more clear, mostly so that it didn't look like the idiocy was endemic to the text, but rather was isolated to that final statement. For that last part, I ended up shuffling some text around, but it's not voiced text so this is really no big deal. You'll probably want to shuffle around whole lines, rarely, so be prepared to do that, for reasons like this one. Lastly, and most importantly, I tried to make the whole book-inside-the-VN passage flow as though it were a single logical explanation (you know; like a scientific-minded book normally would deliver). This is crucial for making the non sequitur at the end more jarring, and thus making the joke work (to the extent that it does). That last one is really the key, and it's applicable to more than just jokes or short passages like this. It's easy to get hung up on fixing individual lines and then miss the big picture. Lines are connected to make scenes. Scenes are connected to make the VN. Each level of that chain needs to fit together to make sense, and as the editor, you're on the line for that.
    As I'm writing this blog post, I realize there's at least one error in the "final" text I delivered up above: inconsistent capitalization of Theory of Relativity. Possibly more problems as well that I'm not seeing, and certainly there's room for improvement. Well, hopefully QA caught that grammar problem.
    I wasn't delighted with the result, but nonetheless, this was a good time to move on. This joke isn't going to be winning Olympic gold with such a shaky landing, but at least it does land instead of flying off on its own somewhere, leaving us behind and horribly confused. That's good enough for this filler scene. Everything can always be made better, and you can spend an eternity making something a little bit better all the time, but then nobody will ever actually see your work. You need to realize when to step back from something and say "It's good enough; ship it."
    Bottom line, if you're playing To Heart 2 and you get to a scene where the protagonist is picking a book to put him to sleep, take the science trivia book instead. That joke was funnier to begin with.
  23. Like
    ittaku got a reaction from Arcadeotic for a blog entry, To Heart 2 needs Translate checkers, Editors, Proofreaders and more   
    To Heart 2 is one of the all time classic original slice of life donkan protagonist harems with a cult following today, even if it is over 10 years old.
    Positions desired:
    Translate checker Editors Proofreader Graphic editors Windows scripters Anything else you think you can offer The completely translated To heart 2 translation project is one of the longest running VN translation projects still alive today that still needs people to polish it up to finalise the release. It's a fairly large work spanning 9 routes with 11 different girls and 50+ hours of reading (with 2267 unique kanji, 345512 kanji total, 2.9M kana, roughly 97,000 lines!).  I've kept this project alive for over 7 years now and would love to complete it but since I did almost all the translation myself and was not that strong a translator, what the work needs most is a translate checker to bring it up to a higher standard. I'd love to complete this project so that it would free me up to do more translation work on other visual novels instead of coordinating this project for ever more.
    I'm looking for motivated people who can complete whole routes of translate checking or editing, or ideally can do the whole lot but understand how much work this is (since I know how long it took me to translate the text in the first place). More than half of it has had a 1st pass edit, but that still leaves quite a bit of text needing editing. I don't care if you don't have any experience editing VNs, so long as you have good English language skills, can work with UTF8 text files and have the time to dedicate to doing a large portion of it. Usually I get potential editors to undergo a small editor's test to verify they can do the task. I have an extensive style guide to guide how to edit it. Additionally I need a proofreader who can go over the whole lot looking for remaining errors and discrepancies in style and wording which takes a lot less effort than first pass editing.
    Optionally if there was someone keen on trying their hand on graphic editing, there are a handful of text-on-graphics screens and icons that could do with being converted to English, and of course quite a few H scenes that could be decensored.
    Finally if someone is good at creating batch scripts to extract, insert and recompress files in windows to patch the game in place instead of manually copying files across the way my patch currently does, I could use your help. The extraction, insertion and recompression tools already exist. The main reason I haven't included any edited graphics to date is that I would have to upload the entire recompressed data file and would prefer to have an archive with only the edited pictures. While I did a lot of the programming for this project, I'm almost exclusively a linux hacker and take short-cuts when it comes to windows.
    The translation project thread is below. Please PM me or email me if you wish to help, or come onto IRC irc.rizon.net #aikeshi
     
     
  24. Like
    ittaku got a reaction from Deep Blue for a blog entry, To Heart 2 needs Translate checkers, Editors, Proofreaders and more   
    To Heart 2 is one of the all time classic original slice of life donkan protagonist harems with a cult following today, even if it is over 10 years old.
    Positions desired:
    Translate checker Editors Proofreader Graphic editors Windows scripters Anything else you think you can offer The completely translated To heart 2 translation project is one of the longest running VN translation projects still alive today that still needs people to polish it up to finalise the release. It's a fairly large work spanning 9 routes with 11 different girls and 50+ hours of reading (with 2267 unique kanji, 345512 kanji total, 2.9M kana, roughly 97,000 lines!).  I've kept this project alive for over 7 years now and would love to complete it but since I did almost all the translation myself and was not that strong a translator, what the work needs most is a translate checker to bring it up to a higher standard. I'd love to complete this project so that it would free me up to do more translation work on other visual novels instead of coordinating this project for ever more.
    I'm looking for motivated people who can complete whole routes of translate checking or editing, or ideally can do the whole lot but understand how much work this is (since I know how long it took me to translate the text in the first place). More than half of it has had a 1st pass edit, but that still leaves quite a bit of text needing editing. I don't care if you don't have any experience editing VNs, so long as you have good English language skills, can work with UTF8 text files and have the time to dedicate to doing a large portion of it. Usually I get potential editors to undergo a small editor's test to verify they can do the task. I have an extensive style guide to guide how to edit it. Additionally I need a proofreader who can go over the whole lot looking for remaining errors and discrepancies in style and wording which takes a lot less effort than first pass editing.
    Optionally if there was someone keen on trying their hand on graphic editing, there are a handful of text-on-graphics screens and icons that could do with being converted to English, and of course quite a few H scenes that could be decensored.
    Finally if someone is good at creating batch scripts to extract, insert and recompress files in windows to patch the game in place instead of manually copying files across the way my patch currently does, I could use your help. The extraction, insertion and recompression tools already exist. The main reason I haven't included any edited graphics to date is that I would have to upload the entire recompressed data file and would prefer to have an archive with only the edited pictures. While I did a lot of the programming for this project, I'm almost exclusively a linux hacker and take short-cuts when it comes to windows.
    The translation project thread is below. Please PM me or email me if you wish to help, or come onto IRC irc.rizon.net #aikeshi
     
     
  25. Like
    ittaku reacted to Darbury for a blog entry, Eep Opp Ork Ah Ah (Editing Onomatopoeia in VNs)   
    There is a secret language spoken in the darkest corners of the visual novel world, a cant so ancient and intricate that none know its origins. To be initiated in its ways, one must drink from the Dread Chalice and be reborn in fire. Only then will the caul be drawn from your eyes.
    You shall know onomatopoeia. And you shall know fear.
    Sploosh 101: What is onomatopoeia?
    Before we jump in with both feet — *splash!* — let’s do a quick primer on terminology. An onomatopoeia is a word that imitates, resembles, or suggests the source of the sound it describes — i.e, it sounds like what it is. Like clink, yip, kaboom, swish, meow, oink. (That’s the verbatim transcript of my bachelor party, in case anyone’s wondering.) This is different from a word that describes a sound or action, but doesn’t actually imitate it — e.g., sneeze vs. achoo, punch vs. kapow, close vs. slam. The latter are onomatopoeia; the former, I call ononotopoeia.
    For the sake of brevity, let’s refer to these O and not-O.
    The Japanese language is rich in O. There’s a sound effect for everything. There’s probably a sound effect for there being a sound effect for everything. (If there isn’t, I’d like to propose one now: darubu.) There are even sound effects for things that don’t actually make sound — e.g., “jii” for staring. While it’s woven into the fabric of the modern Japanese language, O is especially prevalent in manga and, to a somewhat lesser extent, anime. Since visual novels draw heavily from these two worlds, they too feature lots and lots of these words.
    English is relatively impoverished in O by comparison, and therein lies the challenge for VN translators and editors. Do you leave these essentially untranslatable sound effects as they are? Or do you try to translate them, losing some of their immediacy and, for lack of a better word, oomph?

    Across the great divide
    The VN community seems to be fairly split on that question. In one camp, we have the purists. By and large, these are readers who are already comfortable with Japanese O through manga and anime. They consider it part and parcel of the VN experience. Learning and appreciating such terms is simply part of becoming an accomplished reader. It’d be like going to a fine dining restaurant and, instead of the chef presenting you with “the amuse-bouche,” he just came out and said, “Here’s this small appetizer thingy I made. Hope you like it.” The vocabulary is part of the experience.
    In the other camp, we have the reformists. To them, leaving O untouched isn’t translation; it’s mere transliteration. It denies meaningful content to the uninitiated English reader — e.g., if you don’t know "munyu" means to grope someone, you’ll be clueless when the best girl hauls off and smacks the protagonist in the very next line. To extend the fine dining metaphor, it’d be like going to the same restaurant, being handed a menu that was all in French, and having the waitstaff snootily refuse to tell you what anything meant. Hope you like thymus glands, mon ami, because that’s what you just ordered.
    When it came to KoiRizo, I was a reformist editor on a purist project. I joined the team after the translation had been completed and a lot of the big up-front decisions had already been made: Will this be a literal translation or liberal? (Literal.) Will we keep all the honorifics? (Yes.) Will we keep all the onomatopoeia? (Yes.) MDZ, the KoiRizo project lead, was very up-front about all this. And that was fine. The job of a VN editor is to facilitate and execute on the project lead’s vision. It’s great if you’re involved early enough to shape that vision, but it’s ultimately his/her show, not yours. (If you’re not okay with that, go start your own TL project.) So with that in mind, I did the best purist editing job I could.
    But what if I had carte blanche in how I approached O? What would I do differently? As luck would have it, I’ve given that some thought.

    Onomatopoeia in standard scripts
    For the majority of scripts, it helps to separate O-words into two groups: content-light ad content-heavy. The content-light group tends to consist of interjections, exclamations, grunts, groans, laughs, etc. These are mostly self-explanatory terms, communicating very little other than the fact that they’re a familiar sound. Some examples include:
    Ho E A Heh Uuu At most, I’ll clean these up to make them friendlier to Western eyes — “A! A sea cucumber!” becomes “Ah! A sea cucumber!” (In this case, it’d be too easy to mistake the “A” sound for a stammering repetition of the indefinite article “a.”) Otherwise, I’m happy to leave them be.
    On the other side, we have the content-heavy O-words. These are either (1) terms that have a very specific meaning you’d never be able to guess at without prior knowledge, or (2) common sounds that are rendered much differently in English than Japanese. These are the words that, if you ignore them, will result in meaningful content being lost in translation. Some examples include:
    Kakkun = the “sound” of hitting someone in the back of the knees. Based on a kids’ game. Su = the sound of something suddenly appearing (among other meanings) Gusu = the sound of a whimpering sob Hakushon = the sound of sneezing Chikutaku = the sound a clock makes Our first line of attack is to see if there’s any suitable English onomatopoeia we can swap in. It’s rare that it works out so neatly, but it does happen. So "hakushon" becomes “achoo,” "chikutaku" becomes “tick tock,” etc. If this doesn’t work, we fall back on another common approach: turning not-O English words into O by enclosing them in asterisks. So:
    “Gusu. Why won’t you return any of my calls?"
    becomes:
    *whimper* “Why won’t you return any of my calls?”
    As your final line of defense, you might consider abandoning O altogether, instead relying on some explanatory text to flesh out the intended meaning. So:
    Su.
    “Where do you think you’re going, jerk?”
    becomes:
    She appeared out of nowhere.
    “Where do you think you’re going, jerk?”
    I’d recommend turning to this as a last resort, however, since you can see a certain staccato elegance gets lost in translation.
    As for where you can find out what all these untranslated O-words mean, there are all sorts of online resources to be had out there. I tend to use the Japanese > English SFX dictionary over at The JADED Network, but I’m sure there are plenty of others just as good.

    Onomatopoeia in H-scenes
    Sex scenes are something of a special case. You’ll find there are large blocks of text that are nothing but wall-to-wall O. (I see what you did there, you sly dog you ...) Here are some sample lines from KoiRizo:
    Sango: “Nafufu. Fumu, Juru, Zuzuzu."
    Sango: "Rero, Chu, Chuu ..."
    Sango: "Hamu, Chuu, Chuu ... Rero, Juupu, Zuzu."
    Sango: "Jupo, Gupo, Zu."
    Sango: "Juzuzuzuzu."
    Sango: "Fumu? Fua ..."
    During editing, I liked to call these sections “word salad.” They’re an unholy mishmash of content-heavy O, content-light O, and nonsensical fuck-grunts. It’s a tangled mess of syllables that can make even the bravest editor or translator turn tail and run. In my earlier post on editing H-scenes, one of the commenters — smile for the camera, Ittaku! — suggested it might just be better to replace these sections with ellipses and let the VO do all the heavy lifting. It’s a tempting thought. But despite all appearances, there’s content to be had there — content the Japanese reader would have understood, and which the English reader will miss out on ... unless you take action.
    Let’s see what happens if we (somewhat liberally) run it through the techniques we’ve discussed so far.
    Sango: "Ummph. Umm." *slurp* *sluuurp*
    Sango: “Mmm.” *suuuck*
    Sango: *nibble* *suck* “Mmmm ...” *bob* *sluuurp*
    Sango: *sucksuck* *slurp*
    Sango: *slurpslurpslurpsluuurp*
    Sango: "Mmmph? Ahhh ..."
    Okay, it ain’t poetry, but at least we’ve transformed our tossed salad it into something with actual meaning. Even without having read the rest of the scene, you can guess that Sango is vigorously polishing the protagonist’s knob. Or is trapped in a vat of ramen and eating her way to freedom. It can be improved upon, of course; all those asterisks start getting visually distracting, so if the VN engine supports it, italics might be a better choice here. But I’d argue it’s much better than what we started with.
    Feeling more confident? Good. Go forth and sploosh.
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