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Plk_Lesiak

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Everything posted by Plk_Lesiak

  1. Birthday thread

    All Best Wishes to @Decay! May your translators be competent and editing quotas bearable!
  2. MangaGamer Winter Sale

    For the next 12 days, MangaGamer store will feature both a set of fixed discounts and some sweet daily deals, today's one being -70% on Edelweiss titles. While, as usual, most of the things on sale are crappy nukige, there are a few worthwhile titles even now and really cool stuff will definitely show up among those short-term discounts. And, through some unexplainable lapse of judgment, I actually did end up grabbing euphoria for -50%. I guess this year's Christmas will be all red and brown...?
  3. Birthday thread

    Happy Birthday to @-soraa (may the Yuri be with you, always!) and @lunaterra!
  4. Since being published by Alienworks in mid-2016, Highway Blossoms earned its place as one of the highest-rated yuri VNs on VNDB and could easily be considered as one of the most successful Western visual novels to date. The game from the very beginning stood out through its unusual setting, plot structure and high production qualities, seemingly appealing even to the more demanding or JP-focused yuri fans. It wasn’t a great surprise then that Highway Blossoms’ authors, despite their second title, The Human Reignition Project, being stuck in a development hell, decided to further capitalize on their previous success and create an updated version of HB, with features such as partially reworked art and full voice acting (the first version only included partial VA). The Remastered edition was released on May 18th 2018, two years after the game’s premiere, with quite a lot of fanfare and became available as a free update for both existing and potential owners of the game. So, how that does the enhanced version of everyone’s favourite yuri EVN presents itself, and does it live up top the hype? Spoiler: it does. Kind of... The climate of American deserts and road tale story formula immediately set Highway Blossoms apart from most EVNs, even with its somewhat generic artstyle Highway Blossoms is a kinetic novel, following the story of Amber, a 19-years old, tomboyish girl travelling alone in an old RV through Southern-US highways. While on her way to a music festival, she accidentally stumbles upon Marina – a cute, naive girl whose car has broken down in the middle of a desert. First just expecting to help the stranded woman to get her car running again, through a bizarre chain of events Amber winds up travelling together with her and even joining her on a treasure hunt for a long-lost stash of gold. During this adventure, she forms a bond with Marina, that will ultimately help her deal with the grief and loneliness connected to the passing on her grandfather, the closest person for most of her life and the only family she ever had. The setting is something that immediately differentiates Highway Blossoms from the typical “Weeb” games and is much more than an interesting coat of paint. The characters (both the main couple and the relatively small, but memorable supporting cast), details of their backstories, the locales of American deserts and folkish soundtrack all contribute to building a very unique climate. This is further supported by the structure of the story, with the couple constantly travelling between both famous landmarks and various obscure locations characteristic of the areas to which their quest for gold brings them. If you’re looking for a well-researched, believable detox from the Japanese high-school setting and all the tropes connected to it, Highway Blossoms might be one of your best bets. While it’s the treasure hunt that brings the main couple together, the true focus of the story is definitely the girls themselves and their growing relationship All these things said, there’s also a way in which this game is nothing but standard. While the treasure hunt and the scenery of American highways are a breath of fresh air, the core content of Highway Blossoms is still a romance story – one that is excellently paced and satisfying thanks to its characters, but ultimately quite predictable and cliched. The feelings between the girls bloom rather slowly and take into account the uncertainty of their positions. Even after the treasure hunt is over, they are little more than strangers to each other, Amber still dealing with her fresh grief and doubts about Marina's sexual orientation, while Marina herself, despite their straightforwardness, is also struggling with what for her is a completely new and unexpected situation. It’s all, once more, quite down-to-Earth and believable – even if some of the plot conveniences are sometimes a bit too good to be true, the story in general much less contrived or detached from reality than your average JP yurige. However, the final bit of drama, sparked by the already-described situation, is something I’ve seen at least a hundred times before. While I like how it was resolved, it’s just good to remember when approaching this game that it doesn’t offer any real spins to the core structure of VN love drama – it’s just a particularly well-executed one. Speaking about well-executed, the Remastered versions’ primary selling point, voice acting, really is something worth praising, especially in the context of an EVN project. The voice acting for both Amber and (especially) Marina is for the most part excellent, with only a few of the more dramatic moments disappointing, at least partially because of the voice editing (I know those few screams were meant to make an impact, but they shouldn’t threaten to blow off my headphones – that’s simply not how you do this stuff). The supporting cast is at least just as solid, which is always something I appreciate a lot, as it’s an aspect some developers neglect in order to save resources, often ruining the immersion and climate of the whole story. A minor gripe of mine of that the script was apparently not thoroughly screened before including the additional voiced lines, often explaining things that are clearly for everyone to hear, like emotions in the VAs voices. While being an adult game, Highway Blossoms is practically devoid of anime-style, forced fanservice and used its erotic segments to enhance the story Another thing that needs a bit of elaboration is Highway Blossom’s status as an 18+ title – while I’m usually not huge on adult content in VNs, especially in yuri, this game, in my opinion, approaches it just right. Its one erotic scene, while still relatively explicit, is not overly porny and have actual plot relevance, leading to the final conflict the girls have to work their way through before earning a happy ending. It’s definitely a core part of the romance, rather than a piece of fanservice and suggest playing the game in its uncensored version whenever possible (the 18+ DLC is now available on Steam, for free). It’s also worth noting that other than this one scene, the game does not force any ecchi-style fanservice into the experience, making it a really good choice for those fed up with the more trashy yuri tropes. Of course, the lack of creepy panty shots does not mean the game offers nothing to look at – its artstyle is quite gorgeous and the quality of both sprites and CGs rather excellent. It’s not extremely-heavy on CGs, but all those that are present are really nice to look at and memorable. It also includes some rather unique visual setups, like the repeated sequences of the main couple interacting on the front seats of the RV during their travels, which have their own set of poses and expressions. So, what are my final impressions of Highway Blossoms? It definitely is an excellent game with a unique feel to it, but also a game catering to a very specific group – fans of yuri romance. In reality, it does very little that could interest people that don’t like the genre and even disappointed me a little with how little it innovated when it goes to core story structure. In the end, though, it’s unfair to judge it on anything more than what it tried to achieve and in that respect, it really is among the best in its own category. If it’s compelling GxG romance that you’re looking for, you definitely won’t be disappointed. Final Score: 4/5 Pros: + Unique setting + Well-paced and compelling story + Pleasant visuals + Solid voice-acting + Tasteful approach to romance and erotic content Cons: - At its core, it’s still a very standard love story VNDB Page Buy Highway Blossoms: Remastered on Steam or Itch.io
  5. Starting a blog about western VNs and VN developers?

    So, it has been a pretty joyous week in my online life of a total nobody, as both the EVN Chronicles Twitter account and my Steam Curator profile have reached 100 followers! I half expect someone to drop a Twitter follow now just to spite me, but that's a bit beyond the point - if you're not following my exploits yet, it's a good moment to start! Be a kind person for Christmas! I actually Tweet mostly on topic and some people consider my writing not completely useless. The Tweets tend to be quite grammatically-impaired though...
  6. Hey there lovely people, I've mentioned in my introduction thread that I'm a bit of a graphomaniac - I most likely spend unreasonable amounts of time writing reviews on Crunchyroll and Steam, writing those might be a hobby of mine just as much as watching/reading the stuff I write about. Before I registered on Fuwa, an owner of a certain obscure otaku website noticed my "talent" and invited me to write articles for him - while I quickly realized that it was pretty much a waste of time and only delivered a few texts, that experience gave me a few ideas on content I could create for the benefit of my favourite western VNs and their authors. While looking for an outlet that would be interested in my writing, I actually found this community and later decided to get involved (regardless on whether it could help me with sharing my compulsive creativity). Now while I rightfully gave up on the idea that anyone would want something of mine published on the Fuwa frontpage, there's still this nice little blog functionality available here. I could use it to produce two kinds of content I had in mind earlier: 1. Reviews of Western VNs that were not caught by FuwaReviews team or any blog included in the Reviews portal (possibly even polemic reviews when I'm done with "undiscovered" stuff). 2. Interviews with notable western developers about their games and all things VN-related (should be doable, considering that they're often one-person studios or tiny indie teams desperate for positive exposure). I know that western VNs don't receive much attention/aren't highly regarded here and we're a fairly small community anyway. So the question is: would anyone here be interested in reading the crap I've described above (if you want to know what my writing looks like, you can check the Steam link next to my profile picture or my Crunchyroll account - obviously the blog would have longer, more detailed entries). I will appreciate all honest feedback, I won't be doing much about it in the coming two-three weeks anyway because of RL commitments, but I would love to see whether there's any demand for what I had in mind or should I just crawl to a shady corner and not bother anyone with my weirdness. ;p Cheers!
  7. Highway Blossoms: Remastered (Western VN Review)

    That screenshot seems to be doing some weird stuff, I've changed the source, so hopefully it will be more cooperative now. And thanks. ^^ I think I was actually a bit overhyped for this one and a bit surprised with how straightforward it turned out to be, but it's still undeniably a lovely little thing. :3
  8. Yuri Game Jam 2018 VNs, part 2

    Welcome to the second part of my Yuri Game Jam 2018 summary! Just like the last week's article (if you haven't read part 1, check it out now!), this post will offer you a short overview of visual novels that entered the event this year, this time with the focus being solely on fully-released titles. While in the previous post there were very few surprises (with mostly the two titles I actually expected to deliver quality experiences standing out from the crowd), this time there were a few unexpected latecomers to the event and games that genuinely surpassed my expectations – Scrambled: Syd City being probably the most notable one, and quite possibly the best VN in YGJ this year. It will also make a small trip outside of the VN sphere, but what that is exactly about, you'll see at the end of the article... Enjoy! ----------------------------------------------------------------- A Game About Ants This story about two colonies of anthropomorphized ants and two simply workers that brought those together despite the distrust and differences between them is one of the most charming and compelling stories in this year’s YGJ. Thanks to its relatively longer script (it takes around 2 hours to fully read through), A Game About Ants manages to not only convey an amusing “love beyond prejudice” main plot, but also set it in a pretty elaborate "political" context of a clash between the aforementioned ant nests (heavily inspired by actual species of ants, with their specific appearances, habits and social hierarchies). The end result is a really intriguing and visually pleasant experience, also featuring probably the most sensual scene of antennae “kiss” you’ll ever see in a visual novel... And, quite likely, anywhere else. Do you really want to miss out on that? Final Rating: Highly Recommended Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  9. MangaGamer Winter Sale

    Thanks for the advice. I'll be pretty much expecting the worst when approaching, so I don't think it could put me off easily overdoing the porn bits, but I'll take the route selection thing to heart. I probably won't do more research on it, so I don't spoil myself too much. :>
  10. MangaGamer Winter Sale

    Yeah, I'd normally be a bit apprehensive about buying it, but I guess I'm a bit burned out on the usual stuff right now... Winter break will as good moment as any to check it out and I think my curiosity will win with the repulsion. I mean, it's not something I expect to "enjoy" per se, but it should be interesting, if the good things I've heard about it are just as true as the bad ones. :3 Plus, a short bonus story. Because of certain events which I won't disclose, I'm, for a while now, cut from my credit card and using my brother's for online purchases (it's, like, basically his fault so he can't complain about it :p). So, when I saw the discount, I've texted him: M: Can I buy a game outside of Steam, for 20 bucks? B: What kind of game? M: Well... It's a long story... B: ...is it legal? M: It's from a safe and reputable source! B: Sure... Not sure what he imagined that I'm buying, but I'll probably leave it at that. I don't think he'd be able to come up with anything even close to euphoria in his mind, so I better not give him the title and unwillingly encourage to do research on it.
  11. MangaGamer Winter Sale

    I imagine they've saved those mostly for the daily deals. Putting nukige or some old moege no one cares about on those would be a bit anticlimactic. :>
  12. "I've been transported to an anime high school full of horny girls, but it's a yuri anime??" A true-to-life story of average otaku's persistent sexual and romantic frustrations.
  13. Suki Suki aka If You Love Me Then Say So Released

    More like, he has nothing to lose anymore and can be 100% honest with his audience. Though, I actually got curious after reading it. Even if it's hit and miss when it goes to heroines, I'll take that any day over 10000th identical moege that just does the same thing as every other one on the market.
  14. ...the Era of Obnoxious Shilling for EVNs! It's been exactly a year since I wrote my first post around here and God damn it, it's hard to believe it has only been that long. This site seriously rearranged the way I'm spending my free time and provided me with tons of fun and a satisfying outlet to channel my questionable writing. I won't be doing shoutouts this time, because there are just too many people to list and I would most likely miss someone that deserves being mentioned, so I just want to thank all of you for putting up with me, and simply being awesome in this awesome little community. :3 My only regret is that in all this time I didn't find a way to contribute to the main site and help with the permanent crisis there... But, hell, I'm not going anywhere, so there's a good chance opportunities will still show themselves eventually. One can dream, at least... And, however things go, I hope I'll be able to do a few more of these Fuwanniversaries in the future.
  15. Sounds of Her love (free VN review)

    Check out my interview with the developer of this game, ds-sans! Is there any merit to creating a tame, single-heroine romance VN in a market that seems to be flooded with cute love stories, often in much more "advanced" forms? Do a romance VN need to invent something fresh and original to be successful? Is it even possible to be innovative much in the world of cute romance tales, with the kind of saturation the genre offers? Sounds of Her Love, a small freeware title published over a year ago by DEVGRU-P and created by ds-sans, an indie developer then pretty much unknown to the VN community, made me think about all these issues in a fairly substantial manner. And the answer it suggested to me, both due to my personal enjoyment and the warm reception it received from other readers, was: when making a romance story in the visual novel format, you don't have to create anything particularly new, as long as you do the basics really, really well. Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  16. Helloooo

    Welcome to Fuwanovel, newbie! We'll gladly guide you on your way to even deeper degeneracy and weebness. Hope you'll have fun around here!
  17. Yuri Game Jam 2018 VNs, part 1

    Yuri Game Jam, having few limitations on what can enter the event outside of including some form of yuri or LGBT themes, was always a good arena for various devs to show off demos or prototypes and gain visibility or feedback for their projects. At the same time, it consistently attracted many complete projects, often surprisingly solid when it goes to their quality and the amount of content they offered. This year this was no different, with over 20 full games entering the event, including 11 original VNs, ranging from extremely short and basic, to a few-hours-long and artistically impressive ones. In the last month, after the end-of-October YGJ deadline has been reached, I was going through all these titles and today I'm offering you a full overview of what a VN fan might find in this year's event's roster. Or, well, at least the first half of it... In my coverage, I will, for the most part, ignore all the in-development titles – the production cycles of indie games are always a bit unpredictable and I’m highly distrustful whether some of the demos we can find in YGJ will turn into actual, finished products in foreseeable future. Instead, I’ll be focusing on the fully-released visual novels in the event and providing a short overview of each of them, along with a simple rating on a scale of “not recommended/recommended/highly recommended”. I will also, obviously, skip on the games from other genres that took part in the Jam (although if you value story-driven yurige, I encourage you to still give them a chance). So, I hope you’ll join me on the journey through this interesting collection of queer, freeware VNs and uncover all the surprises this year’s edition of YGJ holds for us. As always, all the games mentioned below are completely free to play, so if you click the Itch.io links in their titles, you can try them out right away with no charge. Let's get to it! ----------------------------------------------------------- Valentine Disaster We’ll start things off with what could be described as another quintessential YGJ VN – a piece of cute, visually pleasant and utterly heartwarming GxG romance with some minor, cool spins to it. In this case, the story of tomboyish Selene trying to bake a perfect Valentines Day's gift for her girlfriend after they had a falling out, is spiced up by brief point-and-click gameplay elements, requiring you to buy and select the right ingredients for the dessert of your choosing. If you follow the subtle clues the game provide you with along the way, you can easily find the best combination or home-made delicacies and bought presents to quickly salvage the threatened holiday. But if you mess up, there will be consequences… A very brief (up to an hour for 100% completion), but fun and lovely-looking experience. Final Rating: Highly Recommended Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  18. The Different Treatment of Sex Scenes: Japan vs. America

    Well, I was getting that from the substance of what you wrote at least as much as the form. Especially the fragment where you bashed me for going off-topic felt borderline-unpleasant, so I was mostly trying to unload the tension. I most likely failed. ;p Aye, sadly, we might be in minority even among the Western VN fans and if what Dergonu usually says is true, we would definitely be in minority among Japanese eroge fans - there h-scenes are pretty much always an appreciated bonus. [Redacted] I think my brain got fried today with all the crap I'm working on, probably should stop posting for today...
  19. Yuri Game Jam 2018 VNs, part 2

    Really glad you find them useful! ^^ I also really enjoy those small VNs, especially in times like this, when I'm chronically overworked and low on free time. Going to throw this one on the subreddit today, I'm very curious whether anyone wants to hear about free EVNs there. :3
  20. The Different Treatment of Sex Scenes: Japan vs. America

    Oh, well, you're definitely disproving my point about hentai being narratively empty. But I think there's a difference between erotic scenes that are made to titillate the reader in subtle ways and have a significant narrative function (like the 18+ scenes in Kindres Spirits or Highway Blossoms) and plain fanservice. Hentai is mostly plain fanservice - which is not a bad thing by itself, I don't want to deny anyone their fapping material or deny that a good romance story and porn can complement each other. The problem arrives when every adult-oriented VN needs fanservice h-scenes to sell and money people shove them in where they don't belong. I'd get minus 500 karma if I wrote it on r/visualnovels, but I'm actually all for portrayal of sex in VNs. I just think that typical eroge hentai scenes are a very shitty way of doing that.
  21. The Different Treatment of Sex Scenes: Japan vs. America

    You seem to be in a pretty foul mood today. Well, I don't think you're wrong, but my approach to this is more treating the h-scenes as a necessary evil and focusing on the other values the plot-focused VNs have. Just like microtransaction in many "normal" games, they might be something marketing staff pushes into products (making them less enjoyable for me personally but more lucrative overall), but it doesn't minimize the passion and creative input of the people that worked on it. Plus, not all VNs are eroge and at least with some of the 18+ ones we can hope for proper all-ages releases. Plus, we're talking about the entertainment industry. Everything here is ultimately done for profit and when the bottom line tramples creative concerns, we're getting exploitative shit instead of a compelling product. But it doesn't mean there are no masterpieces created within the VN/anime industry or the compromises necessary to make them profitable should make us disregard their positive qualities.
  22. What Anime are you watching now?

    OK, I'm done with Netsozou TRap - here are my general thoughts (copied from my Crunchyroll review): The sad thing is, this show actually had some potential. I realized that I'm not against this kind of messed-up cheating drama if it sets up the tone right and sticks to it. I actually liked the School Days anime quite a lot, because it not just followed some particularly awful characters, but led them to a properly horrible conclusion. In a way, it was a logical conclusion of the harem fantasy - a scenario in which the protagonist screws every girl around him without thinking of the consequences and is punished for it. And that's exactly what this show needed in order to be at least marginally satisfying - a tragedy, and a one horrible enough to show the characters the full extent of their misgivings. And it ends up with a "I know you sexually and emotionally abused me for the last 11 episodes, but now I understand you did it out of love". And I find that way more perverse than any head in the bag on any boat...
  23. The Different Treatment of Sex Scenes: Japan vs. America

    Well, indeed, but I think Maggie addressed that well enough. The thing is, eroge VAs are not really mainstream celebrities. They chose a relatively lucrative niche where voicing porn scenes is a requirement, but you won't see many of them talking about it in cable TV. And if you ask Kana Hanazawa or some other highly-popular anime VA to voice straight-up porn scenes, I imagine they would decline the same way the Western VAs would, just maybe with less ideology attached to it. On the other hand, if there was a booming eroge industry in the West requiring skilled VAs capable of doing both dramatic acting and voicing hentai, I'm pretty sure you'd find similar amounts of talents willing to do it (even if under pseudonyms etc.). Especially because I imagine that voicing an erotic game is still not comparable to working in the sex industry, or something similar that would borderline disqualify you from finding a normal job.
  24. The Different Treatment of Sex Scenes: Japan vs. America

    Well, yeah, sure, in the confines of our rooms at least. Remember the recent "should I tell my gf?" thread. And yeah, I guess I was mixing two issues. One is that I think plain porn is always plain porn and I don't think Japanese people have magical powers to extract deeper meaning from hentai. There simply is none. The second is that we shouldn't overstate the "liberal" approach to sexuality in Japan. It's different, but it doesn't mean pornography or eroge are as "accepted" or "mainstream" as some people would like to believe - I was mostly reacting to some statements by the OP, like that Japan's culture is "more promiscuous".
  25. The Different Treatment of Sex Scenes: Japan vs. America

    I'm pretty sure Japanese people don't see them any different, they're just not embarassed/bothered about having pure fap material in their narrative games. And remember, in you watch anime for example, you might notice that while the approach to sex is in many ways more relaxed in Japan (although it's, as always, pretty complicated and nuanced), eroge players are not exactly the most respected group in society and the games themselves not completely devoid of stigma. There wouldn't be laws forcing mosaics over everything in a country fully accepting of pornography.
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