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alpacaman last won the day on April 12

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About alpacaman

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  1. And I always thought you automatically cede your right to judge other people for what they do with their free time and money the moment you become part of the VN community...
  2. Read Iwaihime over the last few days, and while the horror element was solid although a little underwhelming imo, what broke me was the epilogue (?) with its wrestling and pool scenes.
  3. I can't say I fully agree with this interpretation but a big part of what makes Umineko so amazing imo is it has room for so many possible messages you can derive from it without them getting arbitrary. It's like the game has a choice system, only the choices happen in your head while the text stays the same and the aspects your brain focuses on determine which route you pick. I guess every story has this to some degree but I don't know any other piece of media that intentionally plays with it to this degree. I think that is also what Beatrice being the witch of infinite possibilities is about. That while you shouldn't disregard objective facts, there is always some uncertainty in the space between them and it's this small space where "magic" happens, where your feelings come in. Umineko tells you to treasure this ambiguity. To apply this to a non-fictional example , evolutionary scientists should try to do their work with the aim of finding out more about and highlighting the wonders of nature and not to disprove the bible. On the other hand Christians shouldn't try to disprove a scientific theory that is 99,999% proven and try to use the remaining .001% to bring the 99,999% down to zero, but rather see this tiny fraction as where god's will manifests itself (being able to accept that others might fill this residue of uncertainty with something else than you would is also important).
  4. I don't know if I would go as far as the anon in my praise of Umineko. I agree with the general sentiment that Umineko has a narrative complex enough to hold up even when compared to some of the best pieces of literature though. I heavily disagree with his point about using the original sprites though. If I interpret Umineko's message somewhat correctly this approach qualifies just as much as reading "with love" as my attempts at decoding its symbolism does, because you're acknowledging the work and passion Ryukishi07 put into coming up with so many elaborate murder mysteries. I feel a bit unhappy with the way I framed my argument around the terms "right" and "wrong" and how I used them in the context of Umineko because it comes across as if I'm trying to scold people for enjoying the mystery aspect of the VN, so I edited the paragraph after the Steins;Gate example to explain more precisely what I'm trying to get at. I hope the new version makes this clearer. I also put the "wrong" in the title in quotation marks.
  5. My guess is most readers fall somewhere in the middle between this and what I described above. I don't think we are very far apart on this actually and I admit I kind of failed to highlight the battle of wits aspect. It is definitely one of the things that make up a major part of the charm of the mystery genre. I'd still argue the fun in this kind of confrontation lies in the reader knowing the playing field and having a grasp on the basic rules and trying to figure out which "loophole" or which possibly tiny part of the puzzle the opponents are going to use to corner each other (I'm seriously jumbling metaphors here). It isn't just the "smart" part, it is that the solution is something you could found out yourself. The "ah, so that's what that clue was about" moment is very important imo. For example, a VN about Einstein fighting other leading scientists over the interpretation of certain aspects of quantum physics could be fun in its own way, but it would be very different from a Sherlock Holmes story.
  6. If I had to summarize the experience I had when reading the first half of Umineko for the first time, it would go something like this: At least for the first three episodes I mainly tried to identify the culprit with a typical mystery reader mindset. Even when it became obvious the game told its story from a fantasy standpoint, my focus was on discerning which parts could be taken at face value and which were made up by Beatrice. Even as I was able to see how this approach was getting deconstructed, I was still waiting for Battler to come up with the one logic argument able to solve it all. Even as Beatrice kept repeating "without love it cannot be seen" (or WLICBS, as I am going to call it for the rest of this post)) I took this mainly as an incentive to look at all the romantic and fantastical scenes from the "detective" angle and tried to spot if anyone had unintentionally slipped up. I dismissed the scenes where "real" characters chatted with fantastical ones as merely character building because to me they weren't actually happening. If the discussions of Umineko on this forum and especially in the "What are playing" thread are anything to go by, most readers have a somewhat similar experience. Even the ones whose theories get quite close to the truth usually base them on secondary clues like character designs. Recently I started rereading Umineko, and well, now I know what the "it" in WLICBS is about. The scene where Maria is searching for the wilting rose isn't primarily setup for the first mini-mystery, namely who gave her the umbrella, it's a tale about a small girl who, being overwhelmed by the loss something precious to her and getting abused by the one who should console her, gets saved by love. The first hour or so of episode 2 isn't just Shannon and Kanon bonding with their love interests and a witch, it is important context for establishing the culprit's motive. Which is way more helpful when trying to figure out who is behind the Rokkenjima killings than guessing how the culprit could have killed someone inside a room locked with a key chain. Thinking about why Shannon and Kanon don't see themselves as full humans deserving of love brings you closer to the truth than pondering on some howdunnit. So why do most readers seem to not pick up on this the first time, even when it is right in front of them? Why is everyone reading Umineko the wrong way at first? Yeah I know, it is a polemic question. There is no objective right or wrong way to read something. However, more or less every piece of media contains some form of message or subtext, either explicitely stated or at least implied by its author, often intentionally although it doesn't have to be, and which can be read into.* Depending on your own view of the handled topics and which motive you assume the author to have, your interpretation can change (as well as your overall enjoyment of the work). To name one example and shamelessly plug one my other blog posts**, in my analysis about Steins;Gate I argue the common interpretation of its message that fate can't be changed doesn't really get at the core of S;G but that rather it's a story about growing up and learning to make your own fortune. I came to this conclusion based on the true ending contradicting the former reading. If you assume it wasn't included for some deeper reason, but rather the writers feeling like that is also valid, keeping the "inescapable fate" interpretation as the most reasonable one (although a message definitely becomes weaker when it gets contradicted by the story itself).*** Of course that doesn't mean all interpretations of pieces of media are created equal. They should be somewhat rooted in the plot, characters, themes and so on.**** If your main takeaway from Steins;Gate is that microwave radiation is evil, you are either a troll or should seriously work on your reading comprehension skills.***** So is there even one "correct" reading of Umineko? Not really, though luckily the game more or less directly states that it wants you to read "with love" for lack of a better term, and not just Umineko but in general. The concept is pretty complex and it takes Ryukishi07 the whole 60+ hours of Chiru to explain it. The basic idea is to base your mindset while reading on the motivations of the characters and the author. Umineko is not even secretive about this or makes it some unexpected twist. Beatrice says WLICBS for the first time at the beginning of episode 2, and over the course of the VN this sentence gets repeated many, many times. So why does it often take readers so long to adapt this mindset, besides it seeming somewhat abstract at first? I would say it is because Umineko intentionally tricks you into reading it as a mystery story at first. It deliberately frames itself as a murder mystery. This begins with its setting where a rich family fights over an inheritance while at a remote mansion with a mysterious backstory and then people start dying under strange circumstances. Of course you would want to know what is going on there and the seemingly easiest and most logical way to do so is to look for inconsistencies in the alibis and shown series of events. If Umineko wanted to be read as a story about love from the beginning it would have built up the interpersonal drama first and then culminated in the serial killings. Also each episode has a new set of murder mysteries, constantly giving your inner detective more fodder. After the first game board the battle of wits between Battler and Beatrice gets presented as the central conflict. The latter is a witch claiming to be the culprit and killing people in the most ridiculous and unrealistic fashion possible, so of course you would take the viewpoint of her opponent who tries to explain the killings as "real" murder mysteries and try to solve everything his way******. Umineko's structure caused me (and presumably others too) to not really think about what all the scenes of characters talking about the nature of love and miracles and such are trying to convey, but rather search them for clues for the whodunnits and howdunnits, which made me miss the core of the story. Which is the point of telling it this way: "Mystery literature" thought patterns don't just not help you to solve Umineko. In fact they get you further away from being able to see the truth, even though it is right in front of you the whole time. Umineko basically forces you into adopting the "mystery" mindset to make its deconstruction hit you harder. By gently, but decisively shoving you into taking a certain perspective you start to have a personal stake in the story, which makes the takedown of said viewpoint so much more effective.******* Only by utterly defeating your own seemingly logical default approach it becomes apparent why the alternative Umineko proposes is superior.******** There is one huge downside to this approach though: Most readers wont get even half of what is going on in Umineko on the first reading. Which is a big deal when your VN is so long most people won't bother going through it a second time. Those that do though get rewarded with an experience that is even better than the first readthrough. Or as Kinzo would put it: The bigger the sacrifice, the greater the magic that results.********* * This topic does a great job exposing (probably, hopefully) unintentional subtext in a certain subgenre of VNs. Not to say this only happens in trashy media, whenever something is considered to "not have aged well" it usually has to do with some its implicit assumptions about how the world works not being considered acceptable anymore in today's society. ** Originally I thought about naming my blog "Paca Plugs" which would have been an amazing pun, if I dare say so myself. I decided against it because I didn't actually plan on doing any plugging. I don't orgle on here either though so maybe I should have gone with my original idea… *** I have to admit that after having read Steins;Gate 0 and Chaos;Child, both of which seem very confused about what they want to communicate, I've become much more inclined to accept this admittedly more cynical interpretation, and have started to see Steins;Gate as more of a case of a broken clock showing the right time twice a day within the SciAdv series. I hope Robotics;Notes manages to prove me wrong… **** I mention this mainly for the sake of completeness, to preemptively invalidate the "if any interpretation is possible, no interpretation can be true, thus interpretation is pointless" argument, not because it ties into where this post is going. ***** Here, have another footnote where I apologize for the length of the sentences in this paragraph and for adding so many footnotes. There's just too many possible ways to get sidetracked with this topic. I thought about adding another one later on where I would rant about Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi and why I thought the way it forces the reader into becoming complicit doesn't work, especially when compared to how clever Umineko achieves this, but then decided not to. ****** One of the greatest ironies in Umineko is that the "real" murder mysteries in the games are just as made up by Beatrice as her fantasy explanations. And just like she keeps adding characters to a closed circle, I keep adding footnotes to a post that would work just as well without them. Without my boredom during proofreading "it" cannot be seen. ******* So about why Totono doesn't work in comparison: Where Umineko lets you make the choice how you want to read it in your head, Totono literally forces you to take the approach to its choice system it is trying to deconstruct if you want to progress beyond its first few hours. Because of this it is easy for you to divorce yourself from your in-game decisions. So when the game scolds you for picking them, you can rightfully shrug it off because your only alternative would have been dropping the VN. I can't imagine Nitroplus praising you for asking for a refund in that case though. ******** The more I think about Umineko's concept of love, the more I find myself actually disagreeing with it. No, I won't go into more detail here because it would take me another blog post of this length to properly explain why. Weirdly enough despite this my enjoyment of the VN hasn't suffered at all. ********* Oh my, this post has gotten really really long. Thanks a lot to everyone who actually bothered to read through all of it! Yes, all three of you!
  7. Totono is clearly targeted towards a certain (male) audience, which doesn't necessarily mean you can't enjoy it. If you like dark, somewhat exploitative VNs like Saya no Uta, I'd say go for it. If you're not that experienced with eroge or want to try Totono because it gets compared to DDLC a lot, I'd suggest you read other stuff first (like Saya no Uta, which is better anyway).
  8. Afaik the remake uses the original script (without H-scenes). The main issue with the final route imo is how disconnected it is from the main game. The "not caring about side characters introduced 30 hours into the game" part wouldn't be as much of a problem if there was something you cared about in the first half that carried over, like
  9. So I'm currently re-reading episode 1 (at a very slow pace since I only pick it up when I have the mental capacity to properly process it, wich sadly isn't that often at the moment) and it's even better than I remember. There are just so many clever details I completely missed the first time. Like how the narration switches from first person to third person in the scene where Maria reads the letter after dinner. Which is such a hilarious scene btw, with this deep female voice coming from Maria's happily smiling sprite and all the adults losing their minds not over how absurd this all is but over the prospect of losing their share of Kinzo's inheritance. Also so far the VN is stuffed with symbolism that went over my head the first time because I read it as a mystery novel, some of it rather obvious, like the wilting rose and the charm (especially as it's directly contrasted with the gold bar). It's pretty amazing how from the start the story is constructed in way that it can be read both as a murder mystery, as a fantasy story and as what Umineko calls "with love". To use the example of the charm Maria gives to Jessica who passes it on to her mother can be read either as a literal magic charm that protects Natsuhi, a gesture of sympathy (or love) from Jessica to her mother or as a clue for who the culprit is as One other random thought I had while reading: Could it be Maria is autistic, not in the internet insult sense, but going by actual diagnostic criteria? She displays quite a few typical symptoms. In the beginning it's mentioned how her she has rather minimal facial expressions. She has a rather monotonous way of speaking (not so much in the dub, but that wasn't part of the original release), using rather simple and stereotyped speach patterns and echolalia. She lives in her own world and is neither able to pick up irony, fit in with her classmates, nor is she able to adapt to different social contexts. She also displays some compulsive behavioural patterns, like when she obsesses over the wilting rose and even heavy rain cannot stop her from keeping up her search for it.
  10. Cyriak is kind of infamous for his weird videos. A few years back the rap duo Run The Jewels published a cat themed remix album called Meow The Jewels (which is worth listening to on its own) and Cyriak directed the video for one of the singles:
  11. Yeah, the pacing so far seems like AiD were originally planning on wrapping things up somewhere around maybe milestone 4 or 5. Which I would be totally fine with, if they manage to get back to their original schedule of one release every year or two. What AiD is especially good at imo is telling small emotional moral tales and tying them into the character arcs of their main cast. Rushing to wrap up the central conflict in one chapter or two would probably take away the space for them to that.
  12. The question is what "really happened" means in this context: The point I'm trying to make is the scene is set up to make you guess whether what you're seeing is real. Opening with an old man who is dressed like some sort of magician standing in an occult looking room while sipping a green drink and screaming at nothing in the hopes of summoning a witch makes you think you're reading a fantasy story, but then there's also a real life doctor examining him and wondering how he's still alive. Btw., the medical exam is also setting up the ongoing theme of the "fact" faction trying (figuratively) dissect the fantasy. I can't believe I forgot to mention this in the actual blog post.
  13. With Bernkastel's name it makes total sense for her to like alcohol (since she shares her name with a small German town mostly known for its wine), although I don't really know yet how it would fit into an overarching booze=fantasy motif since she's the antagonist to the pro-fantasy faction. Maybe there's more of a general drinks motif going on. There's also the thing with the tea Rosa bought for Kumasawa I had totally forgotten about and I don't remember what that was all about. I don't know, I should probably stick to reading and making notes for now before I make theories based on stuff I only half-remember.
  14. As for a longer answer: No, I wouldn't call Disco Elysium visual novel, it's closer to older western RPGs like Planescape: Torment. It's really quite good, though I think it falls a tiny bit short of the hype surrounding it. My favourite part was when I stole amphetamines from a twelve year old boy.
  15. The recent discussions about Umineko here on the forum made me want to pick up the whole damn thing again. Only this time I'm going spend even more time on it because I'm taking notes. I'll take the game's advice though and not focus on the howdunnits (which it argues are trivial and unimportant), but rather on what meaning is hidden inbetween. I'm doing this mostly for myself, though every now and then I might feel like turning my thoughts and interpretations into a blog post like this one. The German realist author Theodor Fontane (1819-1898) once said "the first chapter is always the main point, and within the first chapter the first page, almost the first line." While I think he is exaggerating a little bit and tbh I only opened with a quote of his to get a chance to mention how much I hate his writing (some of his novels are required reading in high-school in parts of Germany), it is true that the opening to a novel or any piece of fictional media can be a more important part of the work than it is often given credit for. Which brings us to Umineko's first scene. While it might not be the most spectacular example out there, I think it does what it sets out to do so well that it is worth taking a look at it from an analytical standpoint. I'm going to mention one or two twists that happen at later points in the VN, so you might not want read any further if you do not want to get spoiled. The scene takes place at an unspecified point in time in Kinzo's study with him, Nanjo (his doctor) and Genji (his head servant) present. It starts out with Nanjo telling Kinzo to lay off the alcohol as the medicine he prescribed to keep him alive won't work otherwise. Kinzo responds by saying the liquor (which has a sweet scent and a venomous green colour) has been with him longer than Nanjo, and that it is what is actually keeping him alive, not the medicine. Then he orders Genji to serve him another glass, but water it down a bit. Kinzo asks Nanjo how much time he has left, to which the doctor replies by comparing it to their chess match which is apparently entering its final stages and where Kinzo managed to corner Nanjo's king. The physician suggests Kinzo should write a will, which the latter one heavily objects to: "...And what is a will, Nanjo? Handwritten instructions to the vultures on how to devour and scatter my corpse?" He wants to leave nothing behind and insists everything he built up during his life shall disappear with him, as it is part of the deal he made. He goes on to speak about his only regret, which is not being able to see the smile of the witch Beatrice once more, resulting in him screaming at thin air offering his remaining life to her for her to appear before him one last time. Opening Credits roll. The main thread running through the scene is a lingering conflict between what is "real" and what isn't, already introducing one of the main themes of the VN. This starts with the setting and props: There is no real indication if what you see takes place in the real world or some fantasy realm nor does it properly fit into any specific timeframe. The occult study, Kinzo's gown and the venomous green liquor all make the whole scene look surreal, but then there is also a real world physician doing standard medical examinations. In this sense the whole dialogue between Nanjo and Kanzo can be read as a conflict between material reality and fantasy, with Nanjo and his medicine or science representing the former and Kinzo having completely embraced the latter. Nanjo tries to bring Kinzo to care about his own physical wellbeing and his remains (stand-ins for material reality), both of which the latter one doesn't care at all about. The liquor in this context is basically a metaphor for fantasy. It has an inviting scent but looks like venom. It poisons Kinzo and according to him is what actually keeps him alive at the same time. His addiction turns his health and life miserable (as well as those of his children), while it is also what keeps him going. The booze or rather fantasy keeping him alive is also rather funny imo considering we later learn that, while he is part of all the "non-real" scenarios, in "real life" he has already been dead for quite a while. [It has been some time since I read the VN the first time so I don't really remember if the booze motif gets used at other points but it is one of the things I am going to keep an eye on this time around.] One of the main and more obvious purposes of an opening scene is to make the audience want to read on, usually by using a narrative hook. In this case it is the question about Beatrice's existence. You immediately ask yourself what the deal is with a witch that might or might not be real and that some weird and menacing old man is apparently trying to summon. Her (non-)presence is one of the main threads running through the whole VN and it gets established in the very first scene. This hook also ties right back into the overarching uncertainty of the scene about what is "real" and thus one of the main themes of the VN. The whole scene imo exemplifies pretty well what Umineko excels at, namely tying its separate narrative layers together. From the outset, characterization, plot, horror, fantasy, metaphor and theme are never truly separable but form a coherent and interwoven whole. I only implicitely talked about characterization and didn't even talk about why Genji is present in the scene at all or about the introduction of the chess motif (or the Kinzo being dead before the end of the game part). But since I already spent too much time writing this I'll keep it with one of Umineko's core messages and let you figure out how these things tie into the rest yourselves.
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