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  1. Like
    Shiru reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Clephas' list of high-quality writers: Tier One   
    I think we can all agree I've read a lot of VNs. *waits for audience laughter with a smile*
    *looks sad when the audience laughter recording doesn't work*
    Anyway, over the years I've encountered a lot of writers.  Some were mediocre, others were decent, yet others were good... and some were just great.
    I decided to list the writers I honestly think have a lot of talent and whose works are something we, as VN fans, should at least keep an eye on.  Tier One presents writers who are 'masters of their craft', to the point where they can be put onto a pedestal with few qualms. 
    My list:
    Hino Wataru- Hino Wataru is Akatsuki Works' primary writer.  His bad habits include a tendency toward overuse of line repetition (like 'soredemo, to' in Comyu and 'norowareta sekai' in Ruitomo) and an absolute adoration for hedge philosophy themes in each VN he writes.  However, if you can endure his quirks, his raw writing is actually really high quality, and he does have a serious talent for scenario construction.  It's just too bad that you can tell how he favors his heroines based on their path length and closeness to the 'true' heroine.
    Masada Takashi- Now, the first thing that comes to mind to any of us when we hear 'Masada' is the famous/infamous VN Dies Irae.  For chuuni fans and fans of elaborate prose, Dies Irae is a drug more powerful than heroin.  For people who want prose to be straightforward and easy to understand, it is pure poison.  His adoration for the use of phrasing rarely utilized in modern prose, flowery descriptions, and poetic phrasing have also made him one of the most impossible writers to translate, though.  His preference is for grandiose settings, 'archetypical characters escaping their archetypes', and over the top plot twists.  He is surprisingly good at avoiding giving away future story developments to the reader, and his most brilliant characters are usually the antagonists of the story, rather than the protagonists or the heroines.  He is also a first-class master of the art of presentation.
    Kurashiki Tatsuya and Takahama Ryou- These guys are what I like to call the 'Masada Fanboys'.  Their prose, their scenario and setting construction, and even the cadence of their poetry is all an imprint of Masada.   For those unfamiliar with Light's works, Kurashiki Tatsuya was the scenario writer for Maggot Baits (which had unbelievably good prose outside of the torture/sex scenes) and Takahama Ryou was one of Izumo 4's writers.  While their writing shows off a rather obvious obsession with Masada's works, that doesn't seem to keep them from writing enormously enjoyable stories and characters.  The biggest difference between them and Masada is that they tend to place more of an emphasis on the protagonist and heroines than Masada does (as Masada is a master of the 'supreme antagonist' as is evidenced by Amakasu, Reinhardt, Mercurius, and Hajun).  Evidence of this is Vermilion, Electro Arms, Zero Infinity, and Silverio Vendetta, all of which were VNs that were defined almost entirely by the protagonist and/or the heroines. 
    Kinugasa Shougo- The writer of Akatsuki no Goei (the series) and Reminiscence (the series), Kinugasa Shougo is perhaps best known for his character-based situational comedy, despite having a surprising flair for building a setting.  He has an inordinate fondness for dystopian settings and characters who are either amoral or outright villainous.  Kaito in Akatsuki no Goei is perhaps one of the most amoral protagonists I've ever come across, possessing a capacity for directed brutality that I've found nearly unmatched in VNs combined with an arrogance that causes endless hilarity throughout the VNs involving him.  However, this writer does have one huge flaw... he loves leaving things unfinished and/or to your imagination.  He never concludes his stories, and things almost never have a 'happily ever after' feeling to them after he gets done with them.
    Takaya Aya- Perhaps one of the most versatile writers on this list, Takaya Aya is Caramel Box's primary writer, having been responsible for many first-class VNs, including Semiramis no Tenbin, Komorebi no Nostalgica, Shuumatsu Shoujo Gensou Alicematic, Otoboku 2, and Kikan Bakumatsu Ibun Last Cavalier.  He is absolutely brilliant at creating empathetic characters and pulling the reader into their situations.  He can do chuunige, slice-of-life comedy, nakige, and even a dark social commentary.
    Higashide Yuuichirou- Like Masada, Higashide Yuuichirou is/was (he is retired) primarily a chuunige writer and was Propeller's main writer until 2011.  Unlike Masada, he specializes in a more 'standard' version of the hero.  His protagonists are designed to inspire, his writing is full of humor (both standard manzai and self-effacing), and he has a mastery of catharsis that Masada simply doesn't possess.  To be honest, I've only come across a few writers that can balance so many elements in a single literary work without having it all fall apart, and his works don't lose their flavor after multiple playthroughs.
    Takehaya- Takehaya is a master of catharsis, the creating of characters, settings, and scenarios that can draw out the emotions of the reader, forcing them into an emotional release despite themselves.  All of his best works - from utsuge Konakana to the more recent Rakuen no Shugosha - rip into your heart and force you to make a place for the characters there.  There are few writers out there that can do what he does, but I can't help but wish there were.
    Morisaki Ryouto- Morisaki Ryouto is a challenger for Takaya Aya in terms of versatility, capable of writing nakige, charage, hard sci-fi, chuunige fantasy (Fate/Hollow Ataraxia) and even heavy eros.  While he isn't as brilliant as Takaya as a writer, he does have a gift for adapting himself to the genre he is writing, and it is always worth it to at least try anything he writes, even if the genre itself turns out not to suit your tastes.
    Shumon Yuu- Shumon Yuu is something of an enigma.  He occasionally appears in the VN industry (every three years or so) and puts out a VN that is artistically brilliant (in the general sense) and possesses depths that are almost impossible to fully plumb in a single playthrough.  Every VN he has put out since he hit his stride with Itsuka Todoku has been a kamige.  He is also a light novel writer.  He is brilliant at portraying both suffering and joy, drawing you into the setting and characters while presenting them in their best lights.  If there is a writer in the VN industry I can say unequivocally is a genius, he is it.
  2. Like
    Shiru reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Clephas Top 50 VNs   
    For the last two years or so, I've gotten repeated requests to unequivocally name my top VNs made up until the present, ignoring objectivity, my vndb votes, etc.  I've more or less just ignored most of those requests, because it is a pain in the ass to name a 'favorite' VN in the first place.  I've made lists of VNs I loved from various genres, and I've also made lists of VNs for a specific purpose.  However, I've avoided making a list like this one up until now, mostly because my 'favorites' switch out so often. 
    Let's get this straight for those who are going to criticize my choices... these are the VNs I like the most, not the fifty best VNs of all time.  I make no pretense to preeminence of opinion in this case, because I'm also discarding all attempts at objectivity.  What a person likes is ultimately a matter of personal tastes, not a matter of logic.
    Why did I make it fifty?  Because my number of VNs played, setting aside replays and nukige, is over six hundred already (with replays and nukige, it is closer to eight hundred...)... I'd be surprised if I didn't have this many VNs I considered wonderful. 
    Keep in mind that these aren't in a particular order.
    1.   Evolimit
    2.   Dies Irae (the one by Light)
    3.   Ikusa Megami Zero
    4.   Nanairo Reincarnation
    5.   Semiramis no Tenbin
    6.   Bradyon Veda
    7.   Vermilion Bind of Blood
    8.   Hapymaher
    9.   Tiny Dungeon (as a series)
    10.  Bullet Butlers
    11.  Chrono Belt
    12.  Ayakashibito
    13.  Otome ga Boku ni Koishiteiru 2
    14.  Chusingura
    15.  Draculius
    16.  Otome ga Tsumugu, Koi no Canvas
    17.  Silverio Vendetta
    18.  Konata yori Kanata Made
    19.  Grisaia series
    20.  Akatsuki no Goei series
    21.  Reminiscence series
    22.  Haruka ni Aogi, Uruwashi no
    23.  Harumade, Kururu
    24.  Soukou Akki Muramasa
    25.  Tokyo Babel
    26.  Tasogare no Sinsemilla
    27.  Komorebi no Nostalgica
    28.  Yurikago yori Tenshi Made
    29.  Izuna Zanshinken
    30.  Moshimo Ashita ga Harenaraba
    31.  Kamikaze Explorers
    32.  Devils Devel Concept
    33.  Suzunone Seven
    34.  Baldr Skydive series
    35.  Baldr Sky Zero series
    36.  Toppara Zashikiwarashi no Hanashi
    37.  Tsuisou no Augment (series)
    38.  Kikan Bakumatsu Ibun Last Cavalier
    39.  Shin Koihime Musou (series not including the original Koihime Musou)
    40.  Soshite Hatsukoi wa Imouto ni Naru
    41.  Tenshi no Hane o Fumanaide
    42.  Irotoridori no Sekai
    43.  Noble Works
    44.  Koisuru Otome to Shugo no Tate (series)
    45.  Kitto, Sumiwataru Asairo yori mo
    46.  Jingai Makyou
    47.  Sakura, Sakimashita
    48.  Abyss Homicide Club
    49.  Re:Birth Colony Lost Azurite
    50.  Owaru Sekai to Birthday
  3. Like
    Shiru reacted to Aizen-Sama for a blog entry, Dear Translation Requesters   
    Disclaimer: At the end of this post I get pretty salty, so be aware of that. This post endorses MY and MY OPINION ONLY. The numbers about the costs of a translation team were researched before putting them here.
    Hello guys. Aizen-Sama here with another spicy rant. Although I haven’t been around the forums as long as other users who have spent their time here several years (I have spent around 7 months more or less at the present time being) I have seen that there’s a huge problem that I’ve mostly seen here, in Fuwanovel, more than any other site that congregates VN fans. In fact, I think that this doesn’t happen anywhere but here, but again, what do I know? I don’t really visit Reddit nor 4chan that much, let alone interact there.

    Anyways, what I want to address is a problem that has been going on since the beginning stages of this site, and that problem is the Translation Requests, or what I like to call “e-beggars” (yes, I know this term has been invented already).

    First and foremost, the majority of people that make these Translation Request posts are usually new users and I’m fully aware of that. But this has been blowing up lately. I know that 4 posts in the last month and a half doesn’t sound like that much, but the proposals are getting so ridiculous that it’s hard to believe sometimes if the guys asking these things are for real or if they’re straight out trolling.

    Let’s take this post as a quick example. You’re scrolling through the forums and see this post, and then the thought comes to mind “Another typical Request Post. Sigh. Let’s see what this guy’s asking for…” and then you see this:

    These posts show nothing more than ignorance and arrogance, as well as no interest towards these groups they are begging to translate something for them. Do these people even understand what it takes to translate a medium length VN? A medium length, around the 35-40k line mark in my opinion, could easily take a year. And the guy in this post begged for 5 medium and long length VN’s to be translated, one of them being >50 hours long.

    But don’t be mistaken, the worst part about that post wasn’t the amount of VN’s he was begging for nor their length. It was the last statement: “Thanks in advance”. Although it sounds stupid, that’s what triggered me the most. A shitty “thanks in advance” is not something that motivates people to do these things. People have to put themselves in a translators’ shoes sometimes. Not only him, but also the people who aren’t translating, but the ones who edit the text, proofread it, the image editors, the quality checkers, etc… Do they think that the task can be easily done if the guy in question knows Japanese? Not even close.

    The secret of a translation project.

    I know this is hard to believe for the e-beggars, but the translation of a game requires an enormous amount of time, and one year to finish the TRANSLATION, not editing, of a medium length VN is a very decent deadline. And I’m talking about a medium length game, not a long one. Majo Koi has around 47k lines. Supposing it had one sole translator and the translator in question did 100 lines a day, the game would be finished in around 470 days approximately, this taking into account he diligently does 100 lines a day, no skipping, no nothing. Let’s convert that into hours spent in total, since that tends to shock people more; 470 days doing 100 lines a day, if the translator is an experienced one, meaning that he has done this before or is a professional in the field, he could get rid of that task in about an hour. But an amateur translator, basically the bulk of the community in itself when it comes to fan translations, could take around 1,5 or 2 hours to do the exact same number of lines. That could mean than in total, just translating could take from 470 hours for the experienced translator, which means around 20 full days translating something, to 705-940 hours for the amateur translator, which is around 30-40 days translating nonstop. And this would be just translation, I’m purposely taking out the other processes such as editing and QC’ing. Do you e-beggars understand the amount of work is being put in these projects? This is why Translation Request posts should be completely banned off this site and instantly deleted. Then again, where would I put my insulting memes towards the op’s to gain likes for no reason?

    Let’s throw in another question now that we’re shifting towards that matter: Is fan-translating Visual Novels even worth it in the first place?

    Before I answer (although it’s probably known what I’m going to say, given my tone) let me address this: I by no means think that fan-translation is bad, in fact, it has been the reason why we’re getting official localizations now and I think that no amount of praise of thanks can equate the amount of work the translators of these projects did in order for this genre to be known better in the Western community.

    But, as sad as it sounds, fan translating at this moment is not worth it. Why? I’ll put in some of the reasons:

    -          Although some members of the vocal community throw in the occasional thanks once the patch is out that’s all the team who translated the game gets. Nothing more, nothing less. Some people might say that recognition counts as some sort of reward as well, but personally I don’t think that’s the case.
    -          No reviews of the translated VN’s are usually made (this is what in my opinion spreads the awareness of these games), only discussion threads are made, which is pretty sad in my opinion.
    -          I’m going to quote something that Clephas said in one of my posts, that sums up this next point:  “Another thing is that most people in the community will never even try to experience fantl from the other side of things... they don't realize how much time it eats up, that emptiness you feel when you realize you've used dozens of hours of your personal time only to put out a patch that people bash left and right for 'errors' and other shit.”
    -          The work put in to translate the game itself is not worth, meaning that the compensation that the translator/team worked for it is not even close enough to what they should be getting.
    Lastly, I want to address the problem that comes with donations, awareness of localization costs/translation costs, and ignorance.

    I’ll cut to the chase; for the people that think that with donations alone you can “pay” a translator to do some kind of game, you’re WRONG. Let’s put an example of what could a medium VN translation cost: let’s suppose that the team consists of three persons, to translate a 1.5 million jp character VN (equating to a 45k line count approximately). The translator gets 1 cent per Japanese character, the editor gets 1 cent per English word and the QC gets a quarter of a cent for each English word. In total, the final price equates to 33k dollars JUST FOR THE TEAM TO TRANSLATE A SINGLE VN. And these prices are apparently pretty shitty for a translator, so yeah, there you go. Besides, why donating a random group of guys, who could easily run away with the money and machine translate the game, or not even translate the game at all, when you can just support the official localizers? Contrary to what some people think they are actually releasing more games than ever and the 18+ industry in the scene has never seen so many official releases ever.

    Summing up this 3 page-long essay of frustration:

    1.       Please for the love of god don’t e-beg or Request for translations. Just no, it triggers people off and it only shows how ignorant you are about what happens behind the scenes.
    2.       Fan Translating in this actual moment is NOT WORTH, only people who are very commited and have a strong resolution will be able to start one, and very few out of those will actually finish the project.
    3.       Donations are NOT a solution to encourage Fan Translation, it ruins the very concept of it and it’s also ILLEGAL. Don’t support an already illegal activity by paying it.
    4.       Before posting retarded shit on the forums please look for other posts similar to what you might want to post. Maybe looking at the responses could enlighten you and help the other users not waste their time by reading the same shit over and over again.
    5.       Before criticizing Translations and patches for “errors” and “typos” and being a little whining bitch how about you try to show interest on how much effort people put on the translation of these games behind the scenes? (This goes solely to the people that haven't experienced working on a fan translation and whine non-stop about "how bad the translation of this is" and blah blah blah.)
    Anyways, I think that’s all the rage out. For those of you who haven’t dozed off already have a nice day and all of that stuff.

    And if you smash that like button you will get your very own… DIES IRAE MACHINE TRANSLATED PATCH. Yes! This is not a scam at all, your own personal Dies Irae Machine Translated patch. If you leave a like you can choose between a Google, Bing, or a Skype translated patch. I’ve invested so many hours on them, it was totally worth though ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°).

  4. Like
    Shiru reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Senren Banka   
    Before I go into this VN, I should probably bring up a few facts I’ve noticed about Yuzusoft VNs in general.   First, while most Yuzusoft VNs have a central story that is vital to the heroine paths as well as the common route, the degree to which that central plot effects the heroine paths varies pretty wildly.  In some cases – such as with Nicola in Dracu-riot – the effects of the main plot are almost nonexistent, and in others – such as Miu’s from the same VN – the effects are dramatic and integral to the progression of the heroine’s own story.  Another aspect is consistency… or rather, the degree to which heroine paths are consistent with one another.  Generally speaking, Yuzusoft games don’t strive for absolute consistency.  One reason is because most charage writers (and Yuzusoft writers are mostly charage writers) are not nearly as good at managing the numerous ‘threads’ of their stories as a chuunige writer has to be.  To be blunt, Yuzusoft games tend to eliminate the need for consistency as much as possible, limiting ‘contact points’ between the heroine routes wherever they can.  Unfortunately, there are always minor details that slip through the net, so you can’t really expect perfect consistency in any charage. 
    Another aspect of Yuzusoft VNs is that they still utilize the concept of ‘heroine salvation’.  The idea that a heroine needs to be ‘saved’ by the protagonist on some level used to be integral to virtually all VNs that tried to charge the emotions of the reader, but it fell out of use over time as the emphasis shifted from story to characterization in most cases.  Yuzusoft is somewhat ‘old-fashioned’ this way, as they focus strongly both on the actual ‘stories’ of the heroine paths as well as the characterization aspects.  As a result, for those of us who get emotionally invested in the characters, the inability to ‘save’ the heroines you didn’t choose is always a bit… troubling, lol. 
    I know that sounds weird coming from a self-proclaimed pragmatist like me, but that is one of the few areas in which VNs are still mostly games, rather than just reading material.  The act of ‘choosing’ a heroine inevitably invests you just a little bit emotionally in the heroines, barring a kusoge experience, lol.
    Yet another thing to keep in mind about Yuzusoft games is that the company, even after all these years, is still experimenting with the ratio of ichaicha (lovey-dovey flirtation in the girlfriend/boyfriend part, such as dating, visiting one another’s houses, h-scenes, etc) to the actual story and character development.  Most of their games tend to have long (in terms of text) dating/lovey-dovey/sex periods, which can be unbelievably annoying in a VN with a good story, lol. 
    Last of all, Yuzusoft games tend to have longer heroine routes on average than most moe-VNs.  I’d say by about one and a half to two times, depending on the other developer.
    Now, having gotten that over with, enjoy my comments on this VN, as I plan to go into more detail than usual.
    PS: I don’t intend to bother with the two sub-heroines, Ruka and Koharu.
    Common Route
    The beginning of the VN is somewhat fantastical, and with a little effort, they could have easily turned this into a light chuunige (I’m actually wondering why they didn’t, considering how suited many members of the cast are for that type of VN).  One of the most fortunate aspects of this game is the fact that very little time is spent dwelling on school life… in fact, it is probably the least relevant portion of the game, outside of the character setting of ‘gakusei’.  In my experience, the more reliant a VN is on school life for character development and story progression, the less likely it is to be interesting from beginning to end.
    The basic story is that the protagonist, having drawn the sword from the stone (lol) by breaking it off at the hilt (viva, self-repairing holy weapons!  Haha), ends up engaged to and living with the himemiko, one Tomotake Yoshino.  He’s also together with a bodiless loli who presents herself as the guardian of the sword calling him her master, and a ninja who does all the cooking and cleaning around the shrine. Apparently, in order to cleanse the taint left by an ancient curse on Yoshino’s family and prevent disaster, he has to help them fight dog-monsters in the mountains around the town, so that their taint doesn’t build up enough to cause natural disasters and other tragedies.  The common route is consumed by the quest to free the Tomotake bloodline from the ancient curse and the characters’ travails in the process.
    For better or worse, the central story of the VN is nearly completely resolved in the common route, leaving the heroine routes for those heroines’ personal issues.  This does mean that the tie-in to the central background story in the heroine routes is weaker than in some of Yuzusoft’s other games, such as Dracu-riot.  However, the common route itself is actually one of the better ones I’ve seen from this company, and I enjoyed the process immensely.  The downside is that the transition feels a bit awkward, sadly.
    Murasame is the overseer of the holy sword Murasamemaru, and Senren Banka’s resident loli.  In a lot of ways, she embodies the archetype of the ‘outsider/exile from life as we know it’ heroine archetype that has popped up occasionally in VNs like this one.  Favorite, in particular, is a company that loves this heroine archetype, utilizing it for the true heroine of every one of their games, and a disproportionate number of the heroines of this archetype are lolis (somewhere around two-thirds, starting with Ilyasviel from FSN).  This is probably because a childlike heroine who suffers from that kind of isolation is more likely to strike at our hearts.  She started out as a common village girl, and when a sacrifice was needed to become the guardian of the sword, she gave up her humanity to stay with the blade (this isn’t really a spoiler, since they tell you this early on and it is in the character profile, lol). 
    Murasame comes across as your typical ‘loli who hates being treated like a child’ most of the time, but her speech and manner in more serious scenes shows at least some of her experience… and her path rakes her over the hot coals of her own personal darkness and insecurity.  Hers is a path that is all about salvation through love, and it is one that can’t help but resonate with romantics in general.  I should know… I cried several times in the course of this path.
    I honestly felt that this path represents Yuzusoft at its best, and for this path alone I would have been willing to play the game… and I’m not even a lolicon. 
    Mako… is the descendent of a ninja family that serves Yoshino’s family (Yoshino being the white-haired hime+miko heroine).  While she is deadly serious about her duty to protect and serve Yoshino, her personality is generally friendly, cheerful, and easygoing.  She is also more than a little… motherly in the sense that she loves to take care of people.  This tends to express itself in the common route through her devotion to never letting Yoshino or her father do anything around the house outside of their duties as a priest and miko at a Shinto shrine (and Yoshino’s duties as the sole descendent of her mother’s family line).
    To be honest, her path is significantly more boring than Murasame’s, in that her personal worries are ‘classic’ worries from the archetypical ‘raised to serve’ heroine who is suddenly free to do what she wants, along with the fantasy worries unique to her path.  It is still a good path, even touching at times.  However, since they fell back on what amounts to a ‘normal’ love story with a half-humorous twist, things were significantly less interesting from my point of view.
     That isn’t to say that it doesn’t have its high points… but most of those are toward the end or involve the fantasy elements.  I’m sure the people who adore the junai (pure romance) that is the staple of most VNs will lap it up like their favorite flavor of ice cream, but for someone like me who has been fed that stuff until he feels like a foie gras goose…
    The structure of Yoshino’s path is something of an exception, looking at charage with a serious element in general.  Most of the time, the serious element is focused at the end of the path, with the ichaicha part making up the early parts of the path, during and immediately after the formation of the relationship.  In this case, the dramatic part happens immediately after the formation of the relationship… and the rest is essentially endless ichaicha and sex.  The path has impact, but I honestly thought that the latter part of the path dragged on.  However, the ending is pretty touching, and I was honestly happy for them afterwards.
    Yes, I have no plans to play Rena’s path immediately.  To be honest, just two paths in this game takes up ten hours, and with the common route, this game could easily hit thirty hours if I played all the paths… and I don’t have the energy for dealing with an airhead heroine right now.
    Overall, this VN is one of the better Yuzusoft games I’ve played (considering that I’ve yet to encounter a Yuzusoft game that wasn’t at least worth consideration for a VN of the Month, this is a definite compliment).  It definitely beats out Sanoba Witch, both in terms of raw quality overall and in terms of the design of the setting in particular.  While the game itself doesn’t escape a lot of the clichés of the fantasy charage with story sub-genre, it carries them out well enough that I didn’t find that irritating.  The biggest downside of  the game is the downside to just about all of Yuzusoft’s games… the ichaicha is far too extended and there is usually a lot of runaround before they get to the point. 
    PS: By far, Murasame's path is the best... which probably means I should have played it last.  For better or worse, after seeing Murasame's path, it felt like a betrayal not to choose her over the others, simply because of her situation, lol.
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