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Blog Entries posted by Clephas

  1. Clephas
    ... it's been a while since my feelings on a VN have been as complex as my feelings for this one are.  I say 'feelings' because this VN has massive emotional impact... not as much as Hapymaher, but nonetheless a lot of emotional impact. 
    To be blunt, Makoto is nothing like Hapymaher's protagonist, so if you were hoping for more of his 'consumed by sorrow and despair but still living my life' personality, sorry, no luck here.  Makoto is... a blank slate.  I don't say this in a bad way.  For better or worse, Makoto has lived his life in an isolated village where people literally don't talk any more than is absolutely necessary, lest they accidentally compel one another with their power, 'kotodama'.  Makoto has a fiance named Mana (and no, not that kind of lukewarm, 'distant fiance' sort of thing you see in some VNs, since they actually get down to business), and a rather nice, slow life in that village... However, he yearns for the outside world, where people can talk to people without restrictions.
    He escapes from the village and collapses from hunger in a small town four days later, where he is saved by the first of four heroines, Kokoro.  From there the story begins, as he makes the journey from an innocent 'kami' to a real human being with all the baggage that comes along with it. 
    A lot of the most interesting parts of this game come from the fact that he naturally doesn't understand much about the outside world.  Makoto's innocent, unstained viewpoint, combined with his natural kindness and willingness to embrace new experiences, feel surprisingly refreshing.  Things other 'normal' protagonists would worry over don't even occur to him, and he is so laid back he makes the drugged hippies of US in the sixties seem tense.  While he does change as part of the story, his personal 'lens', through which he sees the world, remains remarkably clean throughout... not to mention the guy has absolutely no sense of sexual morality (in other words, his idea of sexual morality is 'don't use his power to compel people to have sex with him').

    The first of the heroines, Kokoro, is a shojo manga addict who has fantasies about immoral relations with older brothers.  She is a natural at unconsciously grasping the hearts of others around her without trying, and she is pretty much the picture of a heroine who 'exists to be loved by everyone'.

    The second heroine, Kyouko, is a miko that can see dead people (yes, I went there).  She has huge self-esteem problems and is more than a little weird... for one thing, her reaction to Makoto is one of the more unique heroine reactions to a protagonist I've encountered over the years... for another, she is abnormally self-derogatory in both action and word.

    Mana... is the protagonist's fiance from the village.  She is pretty much apathetic about other people, unless they have the decency to provide her with food (from her point of view, people who give her food move up from 'stone in the road' to 'slightly adorable insect' in most cases).  She is a bit of an S, when it comes to Makoto, and Makoto is pretty much her reason for living.  Because of a careless use of kotodama by another member of the village, she is always cold and in her eyes, it is always snowing.

    Hotaru... is the true heroine of this story.  Cheerful and active, not to mention highly intelligent and perceptive... she is actually a fairly attractive heroine from the start.  However, she has less initial impact than Mana or Kokoro, for reasons that are fairly apparent.  Since that is by design, I actually am not complaining about this, though.
    Now, to get to the downside of this game... it uses the G-senjou 'ladder' story structure, wherein the story progresses arcs where you choose to either pursue the heroine associated with that arc to an ending or move on with the main story.  I can say that the path endings for the non-true heroines were actually pretty good, but having played the true path, they are comparatively low-impact.  A lot of this is the fact that the major events of their 'paths' are in the arcs they branched off from, so little is added by their endings save for more sex and some minor tying up of loose ends. 
    To get back to the main game... the true path is the impact I was talking about.  The main arcs were all emotional, so I guess you can say that the other heroines' 'paths' were also emotional, but, as I mentioned above, there is a definite sense that very little was added by choosing one of the other heroines.  Hotaru's path is easily the most powerful 'arc'.  In fact, it is so emotional and powerful that there are two ends for it.  The first one (which you are required to watch first) is... sad, to say the least.  It isn't a bad ending, but it is a sad one.  I know I cried.  For the second ending... well, let's just say it is a good one and leave it at that.
    Overall, my viewpoint on this game is... just as mixed as I said above.  My conclusions on the G-Senjou story structure are unchanged in the least.  I still believe that all VNs that use that story structure should be changed to kinetic novels, just so I don't have to deal with heroine endings that are neglected by the creators of the stories themselves.  While all stories with true heroines inevitably put a much larger emphasis on the true heroine, the way this story structure trivializes the other heroines is really irritating, especially when they are good heroines, like these were.  However, if you take the arcs, characters, and the true endings separate from that source of irritation, it is a great VN.  It just happens to use the single worst VN story structure in existence.  Indeed, that story structure and the inevitable realities it brings along with it are the only thing that kept me from naming this as a kamige. 
    PS: I will erase any and all comments that spoil anything in the last arc.  I say this because this is the type of VN that can only be enjoyed to the fullest once, not the type that merely changes flavor with each playthrough, like Devils Devil Concept.  Anyone who spoils this VN should have their skin sliced open, drawn back, then have salt rubbed into the exposed flesh. 
    ... *Clephas drools and goes off to make BBQ*
  2. Clephas
    [Hey, your Mom is an evil woman (toxic woman)!] [I... I can't argue with that.]
    (Move... Move!  Move!  Move, please!  If I don't move now...!!)
    He tries to move his legs to get away from the three approaching him.
    However, he can't move.
    His body won't move an inch.  It is as if he's being tied down by an invisible something.
    (What is this!?  What is this!?  This is... what is it...?  It's as if I'm being enveloped in something...)
    At that moment, something was reflected in Ibuki's eyes.
    It was a gigantic translucent tail.
    It was a gigantic, soft tail with gleaming fur that wrapped around his body.
    It was extending from in front of him--- to be straight, it was coming from behind the blond girl to wrap around him.
    He was dumbfounded.
    From behind the girl two more gigantic tails appeared and swept away the other two that were approaching him.
    Incidentally, the only things harmed by the gigantic tails were the guy and elderly gentleman, and there was no damage to the nearby structures.
    It appears that she can choose what the translucent tails will pass through.
    As he was indulging in that bit of escapism...
    The girl was right in front of him.
    She was giving him a sweet smile that threatened to melt his heart on the spot as she looked at him.  
    Slowly, her mouth opened.
    (What... what is she planning to say?  What does she want to ask?)
    Thump, thump, thump.  His heart throbbed hard within his chest.
    (Ok, come on.  Come at me!  My vocation is a great youka--)
    No matter what she says, he will be fine.  He will be able to respond calmly and somehow make his way out of this situation.  
    Or so Ibuki thought...
    "Nice to meet you Ibuki, I'm your mother.  I've loved you in every way for a thousand years."
    His confidence was shattered in an instant.  
    What was expressed was emotions so sweet as to induce nausea.
    He knows he is not particularly perceptive, but he somehow knows... There was no lie to the words 'I love you' as they came out of her mouth.
    The problem was the type of love.
    There is no doubt in his mind that, though she called herself his mother, she was also expressing 'other types of love'.
    It was frightening, so frightening.  It was terrifying beyond belief that her emotions were so obvious and intense that a single word was enough for him to understand.
    Devilish and monstrous.  He couldn't help but understand the girl in front of him was fundamentally different from humankind.
    "And so, yes... I think I'll state my appeal points."
    The girl (self-proclaimed mother) smiled like a child while clapping her hands.
    "... you like this, don't you?  This type of girl."
    In an instant, the childish, innocent smile vanished as if it had never existed and a demonic smile that looked like it would split her cheeks wide appeared.
    "I know" "I know"  "I know" "I know" "I know" "I know" "I know"
    That single word echoed in his mind over and over.
    "Even if I can't become omniscient, I know everything the man I love desires."
    Slim, white fingers caressed him under the chin.
    "People say a lot of things about me.  Toxic woman, slut, woman who destroys nations...  But... oh yes.  I can say this even so.  Until the moment the man I loves reaches his terrible end, no; even after that, I never let them feel regret that I stole their hearts.  After all, there is no other woman as 'convenient' to a man as I am, past, present or future, no matter where you look."
    Haa her warm breath tickled at his ears.
    "This is what men seek in a woman: To be at their side like a wife, to connect like lovers, to be spoiled like a grandmother, accepted like a mother, embraced like an older sister, rely on them like a little sister, and adore him like a daughter."
    Even the Red Comet was a bit more humble... or so Ibuki wanted to say, but...
    (... She's probably telling the truth.)
    Looking into those eyes full of certainty, it is obvious.  This vixen that calls herself his mother is... ah, he can't avert his eyes.  She is most definitely the nine-tailed fox whose name went down in history as a beauty that ruins nations.  He didn't have the words to deny the statements of a woman who knows men more than any other in existence.
    "How pathetic?  How selfish?  How... How adorable a desire that is..."
    Her expression was ecstatic, full of scorn and fondness, and a sweet fragrance wafted around him.  She was too toxic.  Even closing his eyes and sealing his nose, he became dizzy.  Even so, he managed to stay upright and listen to his self-proclaimed mother's words.
    "The only person who can fulfill that desire is me.  Precisely because I once toured three countries, indulging in all forms of hedonism and corruption, I can do so.  There is no other woman who can love you like I can, you know?  I'll love you with everything I am, so you need to love me back, Ibuki?"
    Smack, she kissed him on the cheek.  Even as he was being pushed around by the sensation of his brain going numb, Ibuki couldn't help but think this.
    (This... what a... egotistical woman.)
    I'll devote myself to you entirely, so I would be happy if you came to like me too.  If you took her words at face value, it would seem like she was saying something innocent and womanly.  However, the sentiment there wasn't nearly that cute.
    (She's pushy beyond belief...!!)
    Ibuki acknowledged that the nine-tailed fox wasn't incorrect in her statement of a man's ideal woman.  However, that was just a reflection of the id revealed when a man's pride and self-control were ripped away entirely.  In addition, that desire was most likely so close to an unconscious desire as for there to be no real difference.  If not, then all the world's men would be hopeless trash.
    (It's rationality and pride that make us human."
    For that reason, though there were differing tastes like large breasts or tight butts... There were very few men who were seeking the type of woman the fox described while sober.  Ibuki was the same.  He didn't want a lover, nor a mother or sisters.  It would be correct to say that in his case, those desires were faded and weak at best.
    However, the nine-tailed fox cared nothing for his situation.  'You know you like this, don't you?' she said arbitrarily and forcefully while shamelessly asking him to love her.  It was the penultimate form of egotism, of trying to force emotion upon him.
    (However, what's really awful is...)
    That even with her obvious egotism, she had the ability to force one to accept her.  Whether it was the inhuman attractiveness fit to ruin a man's life with a single glance, or the experience she had built up to now in using words and observations to manipulate others.  There was no way for a normal person to resist if she set eyes upon him.  They would fall into corruption in no time flat.
    (Even I'm pretty close to the edge.)
    He knew she was egotistical and pushy, but he couldn't find it in himself to find the nine-tailed fox's existence unpleasant.  Rather, he was feeling good about it.  For that reason, he told himself over and over again about how dangerous she was.  But well... the results were predictable.  It was a resistance more unreliable than a candle in hurricane winds.
    (Hmm, is it already too late?)
    Was he still sane?  Did he only think he was resisting her?  Was he not already long-since fallen to her wiles and sinking into a well of pleasure?
    Ibuki's sanity was being shaved away to the point where he was unsure of the reality in front of him, but...
    He let out a deep breath.  To put it simply, she simply was on another level.  What could a boy that hadn't even lived twenty years do against her?  'They who only have bad ideas might as well be asleep.'  Thinking just made him tired, so he might as well rest.  Ibuki decided to just go with the flow and let things happen as they would.
    "... Hmm..."
    The nine-tailed fox showed a smile different from the ones before.  In it were admiration that was exceeded by annoyance, and a lovesickness that far surpassed her annoyance.
    "Now, self-proclaimed 'mother'.  Before you try to show off your appeal as a woman, don't you have something else you should do?"
    Her name.  He told her to introduce herself first.  She knew his name, but he didn't know hers.  He'd figured out she was the infamous nine-tailed fox, but if she was taking on a humanoid form, she had to have a name for it.
    "What should I call you?  Kumiho?  Daji? Tamamo no Mae?"  "Fufufu... bzzt, you are way off!"
    She made an X with her index fingers in front of her face.  The gesture was unbelievably sly.  It was apparent she was faking it, but it felt so natural it was vulgar.  If one couldn't reach that level, there was no way one could be called a siren.
    "After all, those are the names of women loved by other men?  They are symbols with no more value than broken straws, destined never to be used again.  They aren't the right name to call myself in front of the man I've loved for the past thousand years and will continue to love until the void takes this world."
    The name I name myself here has to be for you, for only your sake.  Ibuki felt chills go up his spine as she whispered that into his ear, but he gestured for her to continue.
    "Fufufu, so hasty.  That's fine though.  Yes, I want to introduce myself as soon as possible.  For the past thousand years I thought about it and only recently - six years ago - I decided upon my name."
    In an instant, she turned her back to him and made some distance beween them, showing only her profile as she quietly stated her name.
    He tried to deny it as a coincidence.
    "That's because...."
    He recalled her words 'six years ago'.
    "It's the name of the only woman to have left a scar on your heart."
    With a cheshire cat's grin, she ripped the scab off the old wound.
    A Ibuki tried to reach for her in anger, the nine-tailed fox stopped him with words.
    "'Now you've done it'"
    A pure as a child.
    "'You got angry'."
    As crafty as the most toxic of women.
    "You directed your attention at me."
    Shino smiled.
    "Now there is no escape for you."
    As if he was paralyzed, he became unable to move.  He wasn't tied down with her tails, it was her words that bound him in place.
    "From now on, whenever you call my name, you will remember your past woman and your heart will throb with pain.  No, I made you aware  of me this way, so even if you don't say the name, you might feel it just looking at my face."
    Baring a heart full of rage, hate, and jealousy, Shino smiled.
    "What will you do?  Will you avoid the name and call me Mom?  Ah, but the more you do that, the more you might become conscious of it."
    Tap, tap, tap, she once again approached him, deliberately making sound with her steps.  She looked up at him from below after approaching him and stabbed him with her words.
    "Another choice would be to call me Shino over and over, wouldn't it?  Are you going to act as if it doesn't matter while enduring the pain?  Ah, but if you get used to the pain, your memories of her might become weaker."
    She touched his chest with her slim fingertips, caressing him.
    "When you stop feeling pain, your heart will be painted over with me."
    As if to aggravate his pained heart.
    "There won't be any way for a woman from the past to touch your heart... aaaaah!"
    With an expression of a woman overwhelmed with escstasy, was Shino looking at a future that was certain to arrive one day?
    In an instant, the front of Ibuki's shirt was torn open and his skin was bared.
    "How long will it be before the name of your wound becomes mine?"
    Shino brought her lips to Ibuki's chest and licked it with her tongue.  A sensation that was not quite pleasant nor unpleasant went through his body from his chest.
    "Fufufu, what is it?"
    "... I just fully realized it?"
    "Realized what?"
    "The meaning of the phrase 'toxic woman'."
    He understood it for the first time after fifteen years of life.  No, he didn't want to understand it.  Ibuki repeatedly made deep breaths and put his head in his hands.
    (... what is this?)
    It was a bit much for his first experience of the World of Illusions.  It was beyond hard mode.  Did he do something wrong?  No he hadn't.  He couldn't say he lived a pure and good life, but he lived normally.  But this was just too horrible.
    (Is that it?  Is it my parents?  My parents blood?)
    Setting aside Soujou Bou (Clephas: one of his three youkai ancestors), the remaining two bloodlines.  The oni who wreaked havoc on Kyouto during the Heian Period, Shutendoji.   The toxic woman who spread immorality and corruption across three nations, the nine-tailed fox.  Was it revenge for the sins of those two bloodlines?
    It would be cruel to blame Ibuki for getting down on his hands and knees.  Ibuki was a child that had just graduated from middle school.
    "There, there, good boy."
    Struck to the heart, Ibuki was embraced by Shino, who began caressing his head.  Her expression was that of an affectionate mother, but it wasn't an expression the source of the problem should have had.
    (So soft and smells so goood... this is no good!!)
    He could feel his corruption gauge filling up, so he pulled away from Shino.
    "Anyway... umm, Mom?  I have someone waiting for me.  For the moment, umm... just let me take care of this later!!" 
    Right now, he just had to get away from this woman.  Making that decision, he tried to use an excuse, but that plan was shattered in an instant.
    "Are you talking about the guy from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?  He isn't coming."
    "Of course, after all your mother (me) is coming to meet you.  Don't worry, I made sure to tell them."
    She quite naturally wrapped her arms around his.
    "Now, let's go home together... to our new house.
    Ibuki felt faint at the sight of Shino's smile.
    (I-I have to live with this...)
    I have a new family.  That phrase briefly went through his head before being swept away into the distance.
  3. Clephas

    Haruka ni Aogi, Uruwashi no, is on a shortlist of kamige that I tend to recommend to newbies to VNs or those who missed it during their first rapid obsessive blasting through the 'classics'.  For some reason, people are making excuses not to play the newly-fantranslated game.  I'm going to first pick apart the reasons that have been given for not playing it, even if it falls into the realm of their tastes.
    Number one reason, the one that is hardest to speak against, is that the game itself is practically ancient and as a result the visuals seem dated.  That isn't something I can entirely refute, but I can say this... Kamishino has some of the best visuals for its time, and its sprites and character designs are truly exceptional.  While it does show its age, this isn't a truly good reason not to play it, in my mind.
    The second reason people give me is that 'only four of the six routes are translated'.  I find this to be the silliest reason... since anyone who has played the game in Japanese can tell you that the two routes that aren't translated fall so far behind the other four in quality that the game is actually better off without them.  Frankly, the 'main school' routes are simply more emotionally powerful than the other three routes, which is the point of a nakige (which this is).  I'm going to go ahead and explain why you are better off without the two untranslated routes... for one thing, the routes are much shallower in terms of characterization and emotional depth.  For another thing, the twin heroines are just... not really a good match compared to the other four heroines.  A large part of the point of the story is how Tsukasa heals himself by healing the hearts of the girls, and there really isn't that much of that in those two paths.  In fact, Tsukasa's issues are ignored for the most part, making those two routes feel like they aren't even part of the same game.  The only translated 'branch school' route is good for a different reason than the other three translated routes.  It strikes much more to the heart of how high society functions in general, with more of a focus on the heroine's ambition and Tsukasa being more of an accomplice than a savior/healer as he was in the other three translated routes.  
    The third and last reason people give me is 'no one is really hyping it' or 'I'm waiting for reviews'... to be honest, this is a fairly silly reason.  If you look for them, ancient reviews for this VN are all over the net.  The reason it didn't get hyped that much is frankly because the translator (Ittaku) thought people would pick it up without the need for excessive hype.  I felt the same way, since normally the community jumps on 'classics' when they get fantranslated or localized.  This is probably more of a shift in how the VN community is now, as I've noted there is even more art bigotry in recent years than there was when the community was at its most passionate.
    Now the reasons to play it... the first reason, which is fairly obvious, is the sheer emotional depth of this story.  The three 'main school' heroines (Miyabi, Tonoko, and Shino) all have incredibly emotional paths with a completely unique story progression and deep character development.  This is, in fact, the main reason I replayed this game twice, despite it not being a chuunige or a straight-out plotge.  
    The second reason is the setting.  While a girls' school might seem like a common setting, it should be noted that this game's setting served as an inspiration for a number of later games that you have probably played or even just heard of.  Two that stand out are Grisaia no Kajitsu and Koisuru Natsu no Resort.  The situation for four of the heroines (the ones that are translated) is very similar to that of several of the heroines (specifically Makina and Yumiko) in Grisaia, and Koisuru Natsu no Resort essentially steals the game's theme and waters it down significantly.  The main reason I say this is because the school setting in this case is, just like the previously-mentioned titles, one that is meant to essentially be an exile or holding pen for the heroines by those who sent them there.
    Last of all... I should note that the four translated routes are some of the most well-paced routes I've seen outside of works by Masada, Shumon Yuu, or Higashide (which it is unfair to compare to in the first place, lol).  
    While this post is full of my personal opinions, I should note that this is one of a small number of VNs I use for my gold standard in VNs in general and have so for over a decade.  Missing out on playing this VN means missing out on one of the best nakige in VN history.
  4. Clephas
    This series is the latest gem I came across.  It isn't the only one I came across, but I've decided to only present ones that have gone over 200 chapters without getting boring, which is a very small proportion of the web novel population, lol.
    In this series, Earth's greatest bare-handed fighter, a master of qi and warfare unmatched on our planet, walks through a tunnel to an alternate version of Earth where magic exists and an ongoing war between monsters and humans is threatening to end humanoid civilization.  Armed with his large variety of chuunibyou combat techniques (even he admits it), his iron-like body, and his inherent immunity to magic-based attacks, he cuts a swathe through monsters and evil cultists alike.
    Generally speaking, this story is one where the protagonist constantly flips people's conceptions over on their heads while consistently pursuing his own personal sense of honor and style of life.  In a world where magical power is everything, he is the opposite, the most powerful mortal in existence while also not having a drop of magical power.  The first story begins a bit slowly, with him faking it a bit to get a grasp on how his new world works.  However, it quickly accelerates after the initial 'adventures' with the temporary party he meets after his initial arrival.  
    It needs to be said that the protagonist is essentially a 'Goku' type of character combined with the archetype of the stoic and ruthless warrior monk.  He is extremely harsh with his enemies and those who are hostile toward him, while being incredibly forgiving and easy on his friends and allies.  He can also get along with a wide variety of types, including kind-hearted and clumsy catgirls and cold-hearted avengers.  However, he is also very judgmental toward those who don't even make the effort to be better, and downright cold and brutal to those who don't understand honor or even simple straightforward social mores that are nearly universal.
    Overall, the series is immensely fun to read, though the second story is only coming out slowly, so it will be some time before it is complete.
  5. Clephas

    Japanese literature
    This particular WN is one where the protagonist is summoned... by the demon lord to save him from the hero!  The protagonist, Kuroki, becomes a Knight of Darkness and faces off with his trauma - the hero in question - and begins a story of endless misunderstandings and plot twists.
    That is, in fact, the peculiar flavor of this story.  Over 90% of Ankoku Kishi Monogatari's characters are self-absorbed pricks on some level, with the gods being the worst examples of them all.  The protagonist, Kuroki, and the demon king Modes are the most humane characters in a world full of narcissistic men and women.  On one level, this is hilarious as it leads to an endless series of misunderstandings, turn and turnabout.  On another level, it is exhausting, because everyone misunderstands everyone else.  There are no Eureka moments, there are only a bunch of self-absorbed powerful deities, heroes, and monsters who all fail to understand each other's motivations on any level.
    Kuroki is no exception to the misunderstandings... but in his case, he is just really pessimistic about how people see him and his own abilities (despite actually being one of the top most powerful beings in existence almost from the beginning and working his ass off to get more powerful).  
    The human side of things is Hellenistic, with independent city-states working loosely together on matters they have in common and fighting one another when they aren't.  Humans are much, much weaker on an individual level than even goblins or orcs, (incidentally the biggest hole in the setting is the fact that humans are still alive at all) and so their trade routes are constantly endangered, and food production is war.  
    The demon side is feudalistic, with Modes at the top as the king, and his vassals all taking care of their own lands.  The demons are not pure evil, but a lot of the Nargol races are cannibalistic toward humans while at the same time seeing them as aesthetically pleasing (in a sexual manner).  This brings me to the second major hole in the setting... the fact that every species sees the human form as aesthetically pleasing (even ones like Arachne, Empusa, and centaurs).  I'm pretty sure the writer did this on purpose, but it drives me a bit crazy that a giant scorpion finds human women more attractive than his arachne wife.
    Overall, while this can be a fun read, it can also be infuriating at times.
    Edit: Adding more details about the characters... The protagonist Kuroki and one of the hero's party, Shirone, are childhood friends/osananajimi, and Reiji - the hero - is a rival who traumatized Kuroki and was the cause of him becoming obsessed with martial arts.  Shirone is a dreamer who loves heroes but is too self-absorbed to realize she is constantly hurting Kuroki's feelings with her idolization of Reiji.  Reiji is a handsome but animalistic guy who goes out of his way to save girls (he seems to have an instinctive grasp of where to find women who need him) and thinks nothing of guys.  Reiji is one of the top two narcissists in the story, whereas Shirone is just a blockhead.  
    Alrena, the 'main heroine' of the story, is one of the world's goddesses and the one who summoned Reiji and his party of girls.  She is a self-absorbed woman who dislikes most men (including Reiji), but particularly dislikes Modes for his hideousness and the fact that he used her hair to create his wife, Mona.  She is really good at faking compassion, but the truth is she cares little for most people beyond how they are useful to her.  This kind of personality is actually rather typical of the more powerful characters on the human and Elios pantheon's side of things.
  6. Clephas
    Come into being, oh starlight written across the heavens... for we are a shining falling star.
    Oh how foolish, you blind and ignorant master of the throne!  How could you believe that you could take from my heart hope for the future with a mere prison at the bottom of the sea and an endless labyrinth?
    Look within these two eyes.  Know the fierce and undying flame within my gaze.  I already fly far into the distant sky, seeking the solemn flame (the sun).
    Even though my wings burn and melt away, there is nothing for me to fear.
    Fly oh Icarus, that you might obliterate the sins.  Rage, smash, and burn everything away!
    Let us bring down judgment upon all that is impure as we burn in the light of victory!
    Upon my fall, so shall the flames of creation arrive!
    For that reason, oh all that is evil.  Submit and quietly die out.
    Metalnova-- MkBlaze Hyperion!
    Shine brightly in the heavens, oh my guardian star, that I might raise up the iron flame.
    You are so beautiful, oh treasure that stretches as far as I can see.  The jewels I stole when I killed my father, the mount of gold wet with crimson... oh why do they shine as they grab hold of my heart and never let go?
    Now nothing is reflected in my eyes but what shines oh so brilliantly.  I won't hand it over to anyone, for it is mine!  The dragon relishes his joy as he breathes poison breath upon it.
    Oh steel sword that pierces and tears apart that joy.
    Oh death scream that resonates through my nest.  The evil creature is slain, and the epic saga begins!
    Oh immortal hero who knows not fear.   I acknowledge that you are true treasure of mankind, and the true form of the gold I desire!  Before the solemn light, my overflowing desire brings life to my dead flesh!
    For that reason, I will devour you whole.  For you are mine, I will hand you over to no other!
    To speak a prophecy of ruin and endings, I will thrust a sword into your back!
    Metalnova--- Sigurd's Bane, Dainsleif! (Demon dragon's war story, the hero-slaying sword of ruin)
  7. Clephas
    Fall from the heavens, oh my guardian star.  Obliterate everything within the iron abyss.
    I have served at the side of Hades for many ages.  I am the beastly and arrogant wolf who prays for the fall of all that is bright and noble while easing my hunger with the flesh and blood of the dead.
    Spit out curses, devour hope, grind the jaws of despair.  The deadly poison that drips from my fangs desperately, oh how desperately desires the collapse of the heavens.  Let the shining brilliance be corrupted, without exception.
    Go extinct, go extinct, let everything be reduced to garbage.  The shrieks and tears have fallen into the abyss.  The only thing I have left to cling to is the sound of the harp that plays within the darkness.
    For that reason, sleep for now within the depths of the dead sea at the side of your love's corpse, oh minstrel.   Oh my grudging scream, reach the heavens.  Howl out to the empty moon!
    Metalnova- Howling Kerberos (Shriek in madness, oh accursed silver wolf!)
  8. Clephas
    The video below starts in the middle of a side-story where Valzeride (the antagonist and hero of Silverio Vendetta) confronts Gilbert over his ideals.  They begin to fight because their ideals, while both based on goodness and light, are inherently opposed.  Valzeride ultimately sees himself as inhuman garbage and strives to slay evil and bring happiness to the people of Adler, whereas Gilbert wishes to create a world where people like Valzeride are free of jealousy and judgment of the masses.  In Gilbert's words 'A proper reward for hard work and goodness, and a proper punishment for weakness and evil.'  In order to incentivize good and hard work, he wishes to create a social system where hard work and good behavior are instantly rewarded, and where there is no way to gain from doing evil or being lazy.  It sounds great... if it weren't for the fact that it is predicated on the elimination of all weakness in human society.
    "It is my victory.  Let us walk into the future together."  Having lost his weapon and any chance of escape, the zealot's powerful sword is thrust through Valzeride's body.  Torn, crushed organs, a blow that should instantly have ended his life.  However, he was absolutely sure that the miracle in man's form in front of him would definitely survive.  If he didn't strike with the intent to kill him one hundred times over, it wouldn't even be possible to make him take a knee.
    For that reason, Gilbert had no mercy.  He twisted the handle of the sword piercing Valzeride's body and gouged his body vertically with the blade's edge.  The wound was forced open, his organs, already pierced, further ripped apart.  His perfectly trained muscles were ripped open and blood flowed like a waterfall.  It was over.  Having most of his major organs destroyed and lost this much blood, even the hero should be unable to continue fighting.  Gilbert gained a certainty of his victory from the sensation of the sword in his hand.
    In truth, it was just as he thought.  The moment the challenger of light threw aside defense to strike, the duel's outcome was decided.  Gilbert had not failed in any respect.  Every move he made with his deep insight and brilliant brain created a brilliant outcome at this moment.  However...
    "No, I will absolutely stop you here.  I now know you to be the most dangerous man I've ever met.  For that reason, I will crush you, no matter what... I will not let go.  I will be the victor!"  So this was it, a retaliatory blow that should never have been released smashed into Gilbert's face.  It was an impact equal to a direct hit from a meteor.  An impact sufficient to make him think heaven and earth had been reversed resonated from Gilbert's jaw to his brain.
    "Guagh!"  The true form of the meteor was reflected in Gilbert's startled yes... a fist.  Yes, the hero continues to fight as if nothing had happened.  Undying, standing, his knees not even bending, ignoring the sword piercing his guts and the organs spilling out, as if to say it was not nearly enough.  And this was with him disarmed of his catalyst, his body back to basic standards... Valzeride retaliated with the force of his will and bare hands alone.  This was, of course, not a measure of last resort taken on the edge of absolute defeat.  From the very beginning, with the belief that where there is a will there is a way, he aimed for that moment when his enemy stepped within range to finish him off.
    The combo that came after was unbelievably fast, accurate, and perfectly calculated to shake and crack Gilbert's skull.  If the fists were unleashed just a little bit too fast or slow, Gilbert would have been able to avoid them.  This truth illustrated the fact that this retaliation was a part of pre-established harmony.  
    No matter how well Gilbert used his Elysium's Astral to control the fight, to deal the final blow, he would have to step within Valzeride's range.  At that moment, no matter how well-planned his chess moves were calculated, he had no choice but to take a risk.  For that reason, he had thought he took all precautions... or so he thought... but the King of Light easily and bravely trampled upon his preparations.  With burning, brilliant fighting spirit.
    "I fully understand your ideals.  You bewail the fact that the world makes it so that pursuing justice has too little reward.  In this current world, there simply aren't any benefits to walking the straight and narrow path.  That's what you wanted to say, wasn't it?"  To Gilbert as he wavered and was defenseless, Valzeride threw words instead of fists.  To use this opening to deal a fatal blow and bring things to an end would be easy.  However, as he was a hero who could not forgive evil, he explained his comrade's mistake to him.  With the sword still piercing his belly, he calmly, with hawklike eyes, looked down upon Gilbert.
    "I understand.  It is true that the world being full of evil at present is a matter of course.  This is because good is painful, hard, and has little benefit.  Even if someone puts their nose to the grindstone to walk the correct path, there is in truth no guarantee they will be rewarded.  People seek perfection from hard workers, after all."  The absolute victor acknowledged the words spoken by the warrior of the transient world.  It was easy for evil to prosper in the current world.  That the world's very structure, the nature of creation made it so.  "In this state, those with the ability to do so wouldn't even consider walking the correct path.  Lifeforms, without exception, try to take the most efficient actions to adapt to their environment.  This is no different for humans."
    Plants grow upward to take in more sunlight.  If there are multiple sources of sustenance, even slime mold will stretch itself out in the most efficient path to reach it.  It need not be said that animals - humans in particular - were the same.  Even in the world after the Casastrophe, they managed to adapt over the course of a thousand years.
    They adapted to their environment and recreate themselves to gain more food.  That is the true nature of life.  Then... "For that reason, humans staining their hands with evil and indulging in laziness is quite natural.  The reason is that one can merit more efficiently by doing so than walking the straight and narrow.  If one tries to balance good and evil, it is only natural they will slip toward evil.  This is just a grave reality, and it is incorrect to ask whether this is right or wrong."
    "For that reason, seeking to make hard work and justice equivalent to one another and create a society where, as long as you work hard, you will be saved, is a quite natural way of thinking."  It was a goal that lay on the other side of a labyrinth that would benefit the race as a whole more than the individual.  Simply place rewards on the correct path and punishment on the incorrect ones.  If he did that, then as a matter of course, all humans would walk the path of collective prosperity and evolve into a terrifyingly correct race... that was Gilbert's logic.
    "However..." At that instant, the pressure on Gilbert was multiplied.  A shudder made its way through Gilbert's body, even though he had yet to recover his sight.  He staggered as he tried to step back and evade, grasping at his fading consciousness.   To step back into the territory of Elysium, where his impact manipulation still functioned.
    However, at the moment he tried to take a step back, his body shuddered to a stop.  Rather than stepping away from him, he moved closer to the hero's side.  This was because Valzeride grasped the large sword piercing his body and thrust it deeper into his body.  The blade would not come out of Valzeride's terrifyingly powerful spinal muscles, and as a matter of course, Gilbert was pulled out of the paradise controlled by his star.
    The next blow of the fist shattered his cheekbone.  When he staggered, his head was grabbed in one hand, and in the next moment, a knee strike slammed into his face.  "Guagh...!"  "What you are lacking is self-awareness."  He desperately kept his brain, which was trying to shut down from the impact and pain, using the sound of Valzeride's austere voice as a guide.
    "Understand this, we are madmen.  For that reason, no matter how much we offer up correct logic, it isn't a madness the common people can follow.  We must first acknowledge that truth and strongly admonish and restrain ourselves."  From agove the collapsing Gilbert, his voice rained down.  To his messed up sense of hearing, that voice sounded many times bigger than it was, and it was as if it came down from a place far above.  In addition, he was kicked so hard in the belly that his organs liquified.  While he was still bent over, a combo of meteoric blows struck him, the destructive actions continuing.
    "Those that can bear true correctness are extreme fools like you and I.  This is no joke or metaphor... your ideals will ruin humanity."  Sure punishment and reward.  Karmic justice.  That beautiful order would drive humanity to extinction.
    "Urgh... Not... yet...!"  The words of judgment were accompanied by a rain of fists.  Even facing that baptism of fire, Gilbert refused to collapse.  Every bone in his body was broken, his organs pulverized, and his consciousness was cutting out moment to moment.  Still, the apostle of Light continued to stand through force of conviction...  However.
    "Understand this.  We are the true disciples of contradiction.  The sinners who should be punished beyond good and evil are none other than heroes who known not darkness."  However, at last, his broken hands fell from the grip of his sword, and his star of white night faded.  "That future is a hell masquerading as a paradise.  Ally of justice?  Howl all you want."
    Valzeride took hold of the grip of the sword piercing his body and ripped it out.  He threw the sword with overwhelming strength, causing the blade to pierce through Gilbert's body.  His body, thrown off its feet, was slammed into the opposite wall with the force of a meteor.  "Urgh... ga...!"  The seeker of ideals was crucified with his own sword, shards of metal flying from the point of impact.  From his lips came a groan of pain.  His voice refused to come out in the face of this absurdity.
    "What you desire is a universe composed only of stars... it not only denies darkness but all those stars that don't shine.  In paradise, there is no place for the common people." Yes, Gilbert's paradise denied those who fell outside the rewards of justice.  Of course, this included in that were those who weren't correct but were not truly evil.  There are those in this world, of course, who neither hold onto the past nor aim for the future, just trying to live peacefully in the present.  Those who stood between night and day, on the line of twilight were the same.
    Most people in the world were neither good nor evil but those who dwell in the between.  For that reason, this conflict was inevitable.  For the ally of justice's ambition was a future that the enemy of evil could not tolerate.
    "I will say it again, be aware of your flaw.  To create a society where correct logic is carried out absolutely is to cut off all those who are not correct."  Before the pathetic loser, the hero nonetheless walked forward without letting down his guard and picked up his twin katanas.  What moved him forward was invincible force of will.  His body should have been in critical condition, but he had yet to even stagger.
    "I will absolutely bring light to the people of this country.  For that very reason, I can't acknowledge an ideal that discards the majority of them.  I will give evil the appropriate punishment, but I have no intention of denying those who have yet to take a step forward.  I am willing to be enough of a hypocrite to watch over the late-blooming flowers."  Valzeride took a stance with his sword, as if to say 'if you still want a fight, come!'.
    "... if you seek to be the protector of a heaven that exists not on this earth, then call yourself Rhadamantis."  At that moment, the oracle was spoken, and the man's fighting spirit surged.  For he knew that to correct the man driven to madness by looking at the hero was his responsibility and atonement.
    "But, even so!"  Gilbert forcefully pulled the sword impaling him on the wall and once again activated his Astral.  Even in a hand whose bones were broken, his nerves were still connected, his muscles alive.  Then if he just ignored the agony and grasped the grip, then it was still possible to wield it.  As such, he fiercely defied reality.
    Without the plug keeping it inside his body, blood gushed forth.  From his severed major arteries and punctured major organs a massive spray of crimson spread through the air.  It was apparent that this was enough blood loss to endanger the life of even enhanced men like them.  Even without that, he was wounded all over and his arms and legs betrayed him.  However, he... no, he as well displayed unbelievable strength of will by forcibly keeping his consciousness awake and showed the stubbornness of the Light.
    "I want to see a world where those who shine are rewarded...!  Yes, I want those such as you to be rewarded!"   He cared nothing for the consequences as he enhanced his body.  He forcibly moved his broken arms and legs, running straight at the hero.
    That was the true feelings of the zealot of Light.  It was the fruit born of the roots of his ambition.  His insight showed him the future awaiting the iron hero.  He saw the end where the hero shaved away at his life, threw everything away, and without any thought of reward offered himself up as a sacrifice... for the sake of the unseen masses, a story of self-sacrifice and death.  Gilbert was enraged at that pre-determined future.
    The heroic story of a noble being must not be a tragedy under any circumstance.  At the end of the path followed by the Light, there must be paradise... At that moment, that was all Rhadamantis the Judge desired and offered up to the shining star he saw as the ultimate.  'I want you to find happiness', the cry of his soul screamed. "Don't make me laugh!" In response was the ferocity of the hero.
    Valzeride awaited the approaching swordsman with composure, a katana in either hand.  The destructive light of his star enveloped his sword blades.  "I need no salvation whatsoever.  I will go to hell of my own free will.  I will live and die for someone else.  Know that it is only for that reason that my heart beats."
    Stepping forth from the shattered steel of the floor, the hero swept toward his opponent like a tornado, his weapons glowing with the aurora of judgment.  "Come into being, oh starlight engraved upon the heavens, for we are a shining falling star."  He drew the divine blade.  Oh Rhadamantis, surrender to the fires of heaven!
    From here on, the results really don't need any words, now do they?
  9. Clephas
    "I have no regrets whatsoever about the fate I chose, bore, and walked to its end."
    "The reason is that I had only to but bear the burden alone.  It was a situation where the madman known as Valzeride was the only one that needed to suffer to the end."
    "If offering up the Monster of Light as a sacrifice would bring my homeland prosperity, then there need be no hesitation.  It truly was a perfect exchange.  As I desired, I ran through the infinite hells to their end."
    "Believing to the end that, beyond the holy war, a shining future where someone would be able to smile awaited..."
    "My vow to fight using my willpower is unchanged even now.  Even though I have fallen and become a Demon Star, I still feel that I must protect the goodness and peace of others."
    "For that reason, be at peace, Horizon.  Oh young man who is worthy of respect and the name of 'hero'"
    "Ruin will not come to you even in the final battle in two days.  As, if it is a matter where I alone must suffer, if the Lightning Emperor of Slaughter need only but suffer to the end..."
    "... if at the end, I am able to stop someone else's tears, then, as always, there is no need to hesitate."
    "The garbage known as 'the enemy of evil' is as foolishly invincible as ever."
    "I know.  That is why I wish to show you my answer."
    "I wish to prove it to my great predecessor."
    "I find that answer to be bright... no.  That's right."
    "I'll look forward to it."
  10. Clephas

    Japanese literature
    Isekai Tensei ni Kansha wo
    This is a warmhearted isekai where an elderly gamer with diabetes and other health problems gets reincarnated while playing a full-dive VR game.  In his new youthful body, he sets out to be an adventurer using the skills he purchased at the beginning of the game.  In the process, his kind and wise nature draws in a lot of people and eventually results in his first romantic relationships in his life.  
    Overall, this story is easygoing and warm-hearted from beginning to end.  A large reason for this is that the setting is one where the constant threat of monsters and the lesson of how monsters destroyed civilization when people got obsessed with fighting each other has pretty much ended nation vs nation warfare.  For those with a fondness for fantasy adventure but don't want the political conflicts that are usually endemic to isekai, this is actually a pretty decent choice.  The protagonist himself is a gentle and wise man, while having the strength of will to do what is necessary.
    Fukushuu wa Tenbatsu o Yobi, Majutsushi wa Poyapoya o Tanoshimitai
    This one is a bit of an oddball series.  In this case, the protagonist, who just took revenge for his wife and daughter's death at the hands of a rich boy's hit and run, is about to turn himself into the police when a meteor falls on his head.  His soul is ripped from his body and forced through the void, gaining power along the way until it accidentally enters the soulless body of a dying young boy named Ricardo.  
    A lot of this story is about the protagonist pursuing various lines of sorcerous research and teaching others with short periods of intense action.  The protagonist was a teacher in his previous life, so he has a good deal of general knowledge (better than the average isekai protagonist) as well as the advantage of a growth ability that other people can't access.  Throughout the first two-thirds of the story, I wouldn't call him overpowered, though some of the devices he develops are.  However, late into the story he basically stops being on a human level and becomes more powerful than the rest of the human race.  
    There is mild romance (slow-burn romance with a younger woman), nepotism (the businesses he starts are mostly dropped in his family's hands), and lots of obsessive research into magic and magic devices.  
    All in all, it is a pretty balanced story, with no single aspect being given too much time.  There are a few points where the story slows, but those periods are relatively rare (compared to other isekai that get over 100 chapters).  
    Kurono Senki, Isekai Ten'i shita Boku ga Saikyou nano wa Bed no Ue Dake no you desu
    This one never got completed, so don't take this as a recommendation for it.  Sadly, I can see why the author dropped it toward the end, as it drags on and there is a lot less insight into characters and character motivations as things go on, making it obvious he was just putting one foot in front of the other for large periods of the story.  
    Kurono, the protagonist, is a young man who gets transferred to another world that is full of war and is taken in by a former mercenary turned aristocrat with a military bent.  Kurono himself has no real talent for the military, but he has the usual wide and shallow spread of modern knowledge from his high school education.  At the beginning of the story, he fights a desperate battle after his superior ran off and left him in charge of the demi-human soldiers (who are considered disposable).  He manages to achieve a costly victory and as a result becomes a noble in his own right, where he starts making reforms based on his knowledge of Earth.
    He also takes a LOT of mistresses along the way, most of them elves and half-elves who were abused earlier in life.  His taste for women only gets stronger as the story goes by, and it is probably the reason for the weird title.  I will say that the periods where the action intensifies are first-rate, but the periods in between drag on for what feels like forever.  There is far too much time spent on other perspectives and his sex life (I won't call it romance, because the only ones he seems to truly love from his heart are Layla the half-elf and the elf twins).
    Overall, it is an interesting story that never really lives up to its potential because the author kept losing motivation in the middle.
  11. Clephas

    First, I should note that this game suffers from what are likely budget constraints.  I say this because some of the VA choices are... questionable.  Ragou's VA in particular is something of a disaster, with a discordant mismatch between the voice and the characterization.  This stands out even more because other choices like Kaen and Diran's male VAs are actually really awesome matches.  
    I failed to properly articulate what the music in this game resembles at most sometimes... and that would be Persona 5.  Something about a number of the tracks resembles the ones seen in that game enough that, in combination with the horrible color choices, made me feel like something was off at a lot of points in the story.
    Common Route
    The common route of this game is not particularly long (the game as a whole is not nearly as long as any of Light's other games), but it does serve its purpose.  In introduces the primary antagonists, the heroines, the side-characters, and the protagonist while setting the stage for future conflicts.  It is functional, more than anything else, and if it weren't for the excellent characterization for Mizuri, Shion, Amane, and Tsubasa, it would be considered bland.  Ragou and Kaien, for pure chaotic evil characters, are pretty amusing to watch, despite the fact that they are doing horrible things to people.  
    My complaint is that there is too much time spent on SOL for a Light game.  Yes, there is a sense that you need to know what the characters are losing for it to be poignant when everyday life is disrupted, but the ratio is a bit skewed for this game, considered the golden ratio of SOL to plot and action in any good chuunige is 1:4:3.  
    Tsubasa is a weird heroine... not the least of which because she is a TS heroine who was once a guy.  However, in opposition to this, she tends to be the sexiest of the three heroines due to her characterization (it was intentional).  She is also the most 'classic' onmyouji of the two human heroines, using some familiar onmyouji techniques and preferring the bow as her weapon of choice.  
    Her story is, at least in part, a confrontation with her past, and the primary conflict - for her, at least - is internal rather than external.  While there is some buildup to a major confrontation toward the end, it needs to be said that the whimsical nature of the antagonists makes the shift to the final battle somewhat abrupt.  In addition, it felt like this path didn't really have the sheer drama I'm familiar with from the company's usual works.  It isn't a horrible path, but it does feel more like a Millie path than a Chitose path.
    Amane is Hayato's adopted older sister who was raised by his grandfather with him.  She is a total brocon and constantly clinging to Hayato when she is with him.  However, the best way she can be described when she is away from him is 'cold and competent'.  She is a master of kenjutsu and a 'power type' onmyouji, using techniques that fall into the 'open path' style of direct combat rather than the more roundabout styles like Houjutsu (which is basically a preparation is everything), Fuujutsu (the art of binding and sealing), or Injutsu (the art of curses and turning ties against an opponent).  It makes sense, since the protagonist takes a lot of his inspiration from her.
    Her path is more involved with Kaien, as opposed to the way Ragou was the prime antagonist for Tsubasa's path.  You'll discover this during his first appearance, but Kaien is the kind of absolute evil that just deserves a good superhero punch to the face.  He likes to make people suffer above all other things, and he finds the hatred people direct his way to be pleasurable.  The irony is that, rather than the confrontation with him, Amane's inner conflict with her yandere nature is the bigger draw point of this path.  To be blunt, if you played the common route, you'll have noticed the signs of yandere in her actions, and this path brings them out in a big way midway through.  Uncharacteristic of Light's usual style, it isn't taken to its logical conclusion, instead being solved with the power of love *vomits*.  
    Shion's path is far more typical of Light's style, in that it is long, highly-detailed, and has a lot of twists and turns.
    Now for some explanation.  Amongst the Magatsu, there are thirteen called the Thirteen Demonic Generals, who both possess a humanoid shape and intellect, as well as the ability to touch on one of the Seven Aspects of Creation and use them in a spell that matches their desires.  Shion, also known as Saikakou Nue, is one of these.  In the distant past, she was sealed away by the founding onmyouji of the Isurugi bloodline (Hayato and Amane's ancestor) during the Heian era.  Shion herself is one of the few of her kind that is capable of coexisting with the human race, for reasons that are only illuminated in her path.  She is a contrary individual, being something of a tsundere combined with someone who puts on arrogant airs and brags about her abilities to any and all that will listen.
    To be honest, I was a bit startled at the huge difference between Shion's path and the other two.  While the first third is mostly SOL, almost the entirety of the remaining two-thirds is pure plot and action.  There are plenty of good action scenes toward the end (the last two chapters of her path are almost entirely battle scenes), as well as background for Kaien (whose origin story is unbelievably sad) and Shion (whose origins are equally sad, which seems to be typical of most humanoid Magatsu).  The ending itself is a tear-jerker, and I was somewhat annoyed at the very last part, for reasons that will be self-evident to anyone who dislikes Ragou.
    I'd say this one is on the lower end in terms of quality for a Light VN, even if you don't include the minus points for the character design and VAs.  It is ironic that even a low-quality Light game is still better than most of what the rest of the industry can produce, though, lol.  Typical of my habits, I have been a bit harsh on this game, as it is in my favorite genre.  It isn't going to become one of those chuunige I replay on a regular basis, either.  However, it is still fine if you are starved for the genre.
    Edit: If I have one thing I wish they would redo (other than some of the VAs and the artwork) it would be making the story somewhat less straightforward.  Too many of the conflicts in the story are resolved too easily for a Light game, and there is no foreshadowing or long sides that give life to the characters' hidden sides.  In particular, Ragou remains a two-dimensional character to the end, despite being the main antagonist.  It is ironic that the nihilistic sadistic demonic priest Kaien has a more filled out character than him.
  12. Clephas
    Before someone asks, I merely paused the other VN to start Magatsu Barai (and Xenoblade Chronicles 3).  I will finish it (eventually).
    Magatsu Barai is the first Light game to be made from beginning to end after the collapse of the company's original owners.  As such, it is only natural (and unfortunate, at least to an extent) that some things will have changed.
    To address the elephant in the room for anyone who has seen the cover or sample cgs... The coloring really is that awful.  I mean, how could any cg artist think those colors wouldn't be eye cancer?  
    On the other hand, the music is an interesting set of contrasts.  There are a lot of themes that have been slightly rearranged to seem like new ones but are actually just modified ones from the Silverio series.  The rest are actually quite high-quality, but then, Light has never had any problem on that side of things.
    For those unable to read the official website due to being Nihongo-disabled, I will explain the basic setting.  
    Essentially, it is a world where sorcery in Japan remained intertwined with politics and daily life right up to the modern day.  In that sense, the setting is somewhat reminiscent of Tokyo Ravens.  However, a vital difference is that there was no real magic left outside of Japan before WWII, when the atom bombs spread it over the world when they hit Nagasaki and Hiroshima.  This resulted in the Japanese having a valuable service to provide the rest of the world... exorcists and sorcerers to counter the new laws of reality that made some of the habits the rest of the world had developed disastrous.
    As an example of this, the 'magatsu' in this world setting essentially causes a magical reaction whenever enough harm is done to a feeling being (even an insect), and this effect magnifies the more this is done.  At the beginning of the story, a news story comes up on the TV where, as the result of a country overusing pesticide against a plague of locusts, the locusts' spirits became a cloud of demonic insects that were even worse than the locusts in question.
    Because this happens all over the place, it is a world where magic-users always have a role to play.
    As such, I find the setting interesting... at least so far.
    As for the heroines, I'd say the two magatsu heroines are the most interesting, with the protagonist's older sister entering one step behind and Tsubasa falling a few steps behind her.  This is my tastes though, so others might feel differently.  A huge positive is that there are no 'Victim A' heroines in this story.  All the heroines are capable of protecting themselves (sometimes better than the protagonist is... actually all of them), so there is no sense that any of them is helpless, one of the most annoying chuunige tropes.
    On the other hand, the protagonist is under the influence of one of the more annoying tropes of the genre... the talentless guy who nonetheless throws himself into things (think Emiya Shirou from Fate).  While he does gain a power that lets him keep up, this is a power given to him by the true heroine, not a power of his own (which is another trope).
    All in all, my opinion so far is that this is an interesting chuunige VN whose art is eye cancer.
  13. Clephas
    For those who are still interested, I've been considering three VNs to play (I'm only going to play one for now), mostly because, for the first time in a while, there have actually been more than one notable release inside a four month period.  
    The LoS game looks to be a low-tension mystery fantasy that is probably going to turn out to be a nakige, based on the getchu page.
    Wakai Seyo looks like what it probably is, a moderately high-quality charage by a company known for its eccentric VNs.
    Ambitious Mission is the latest Saga Planets game, but just looking at it from the outside mad me feel like it was one of the mediocre ones (there is a huge gap between the quality of Saga Planets' best games and their normal ones).
    As such, I decided to toss the coin and let the few people remaining in our dying community decide which I'll play for me.  If I get more than ten votes on a single VN, I'll immediately start playing it, though (because I seriously doubt more than five or six people will actually vote on this... and even that is probably optimistic).
  14. Clephas
    This is a short and complete series about a guy who dies and is reincarnated in a parallel version of himself, where he could see his status and has a skill that rewards him for repetitive actions.  Generally speaking, this story doesn't really have any complex elements.  The protagonist is something of an idiot about things he isn't interested in while being highly effective at learning and mastering things he does have an interest in.  He does a lot of hilariously stupid stuff like stuffing himself to the point of puking to take advantage of his 'super recovery' skill which lets him restore his body to full health by eating or learning how to manipulate mana only to use it to make his muscle training more effective.  
    He isn't the ambitious sort, he just enjoys training himself.  The exception to his training obsession is Ichika, his first love from his first lifetime, who he adores utterly and never really forgot even when he was working himself to death.  
    This story takes a turn for the slightly more dramatic (his status is pretty ridiculous even at the beginning) when dungeons begin to pop up all over the place on Earth (the first couple he squished, the second one with Ichika).  I say slightly more dramatic because he is so ridiculously powerful that there are never any real challenges to his ability.  The trend of him getting more ridiculously powerful with every passing day continues to the very end of the story, which is where he finally gets up the nerve to marry Ichika (who is just as in love with him as he is with her).  Overall, this is a funny story where the protagonist manages to avoid becoming a harem protag despite his immense power.
  15. Clephas
    This series is the odd one out of my recent reviews.  That is because it is a sci-fi story that contains a bit of Cowboy Bebop, a bit of Outlaw Star, and even a small dose of Tenchi Muyo(albeit a weak version with less mystic elements).  The protagonist, Hiro, wakes up in the cockpit of his ship Krishna from the game he had been playing for the past few years.  He has no memory of how it came to that, and his ship is floating around a random asteroid in a borderland star system of the Empire.
    What starts as a simple journey to figure out what is going on quickly becomes a long story of him building a harem, getting rich by slaughtering space pirates, and an endless series of troubles that seem to come out of nowhere to haunt his journey.  The harem is somewhat of a slow-burn thing after the first two (Mimi and Elma) join him, as it is over a hundred chapters until more or added.  Hiro is something of a hot dog ace pilot, mostly because of his experiences in the game, which gives him a ridiculously wide amount of knowledge and combat experience dealing with various threats on a tactical and personal level.  
    Most of the series isn't terribly serious, because Hiro keeps snapping flags that might have made it so and because the writer pulls his punches on the series' dark-side, only hinting at some of the darker things that Hiro and the others come into contact with or referring to them indirectly without details.  
    Overall, this is a fun series to read, though I would call it a space adventure rather than a space opera.
  16. Clephas

    Japanese literature
    This particular WN is the first I've read that isn't another world fantasy or isekai.  
    The first thing I found myself comparing this to was Devils Devel Concept.  Why?  There are a lot of reasons, but a lot of it is that the protagonist is a monster in human skin and most of the characters remind me of the characters from that VN.  
    The setting is based six hundred years after the near-destruction of civilization earth due to a massive war (basically WWIII), and humans have the option of using the Oracle system to find their perfect job.  When Ibuki, the protagonist, activates the Oracle terminal, the perfect job for him is 'Daiyoukai' (great youkai), and he immediately is given an all-expenses paid trip to the mystic world that lies on the other side of reality.
    One thing I have to note is that Ibuki is not a person who works hard or trains or any of that stuff.  In his own words 'A great youkai is something you either are or you aren't.  You can't work hard at becoming one.' He embodies his own words from beginning to end, easily awakening to his power because his unique psychological structure is perfectly suited for it.  The heroine of the story (there is only one) is Tamamo no Mae/Daki, who is also his ancestor.  She is pretty horrible as a person, manipulating those around her with every word, gesture, and even her rhythm of breathing.  Ibuki, even as he lives with her, constantly comments that she is a 'dokufu' (poison pill of a woman), but this doesn't really effect how he feels about her, which just goes to show how much a monster he is as well.
    I honestly loved this story (it is over), and Ibuki was an ideal protagonist from beginning to end.  However, he is definitely a chaotic evil character who sometimes wavers into chaotic neutral.  As he notes 'Daiyoukai, by their very nature, are poisonous to humans, as they contain a certain evil from the moment they come into being'.  Ibuki, while he is often good to those he likes, is just as often a horrible influence that subtly - often without intention on his part - corrupts those around him.  
    Definitely a fun ride, at least for me.
  17. Clephas

    Japanese literature
    This particular series is another reincarnation story, but it stands out because the entirety of the story so far is concentrated in his childhood, where he is constantly dealing with problems beyond his abilities, faced with situations where revealing his true abilities would harm his family, and generally trying to keep his yanderish little sister from being lonely.  His name is Alto Cranepot, and he is the bastard son of a noble who married into an Earl's family with the man's mistress, Ryuushka.  Al, as he is called most of the time, died of overwork in his previous life and is often described as having the atmosphere of a worn-out worker that is at odds with his beautiful features inherited from his mother.  Due to the fact that he had to touch his sister's soul while in the womb to help her and his mother survive, his sister is totally obsessed with him from the moment she is born.  
    His teacher, Eibelle, is the series heroine, one of the two remaining ancestors of the elven race, the Arch Elves, her nickname being 'hametsu' (Ruin) for the fact that she was always the one to destroy threats in the previous ages (she is at least ten thousand years old, but as innocent in matters of romance as a girl can get).  She is not only his love interest but his teacher of sorcery and easily the most adorable character in the series.  It helps that Al loves her from almost the first time he meets her, and she shares that feeling.  
    The entirety of the seven hundred and so chapters that have come out so far has only resulted in him turning eight years old, as the author is cramming an immense amount of detail into every year of his life.  As such, there is no way you can consider this to be a complete story.  However, it is an immensely enjoyable read, as Al struggles to have a normal life while ruining those plans with his own hands and efforts.  
    Overall, this is a great choice for people who like isekai stories that are mostly daily life with a side of comedy and action/adventure.  I don't recommend this to people who want fast-paced stories.  I do recommend it for people who like their stories to have a lot of details.
  18. Clephas
    This particular series follows a guy who dies after being trampled by an escaped horse as he is revived in another world and told to live freely.  He is given two major growth cheats right up front (20 times experience gain, plus 1/20 experience to next level) and becomes immensely powerful in a relatively short time, while gathering a group of friends and lovers around him (he only has two lovers, which is pretty low compared to most isekai protagonists).  
    Throughout most of the story, he picks the jobs he wants to level up at random or based on his needs at the moment, so you can't really say he is an intelligent and far-sighted protagonist.  In addition, he is highly reliant on the moral support of Haru and Kyaro (his lovers) to keep himself balanced.  The theme of this story is very much a 'normal guy his given immense power but no purpose', and it is only toward the end that things become truly serious and he is forced to stand against fate.  
    Since the protagonist doesn't become morally defunct (something that happens to roughly half of the serious isekai protagonists I've seen so far), chapter for chapter, this isn't a bloody series.  Nor is it graphic.  The protagonist tends to try to save everyone he can while not endangering those close to him, but he doesn't have a hero complex.  It is more a situation where the protagonist has the power to do something about it, so he does.  
    The story itself is fairly solid and internally consistent, even if it appears to go off on tangents regularly (the intermissions with the two idiots and their monster donkey are a perfect example of tangents turning out to be important).  However, it is also a long story to read, and it gets off to a relatively slow start until the events that result in him buying Haru.  
    Overall, it is a complete series that never truly loses its shine from beginning to end, so it is worth reading for those who like isekai stories.
  19. Clephas

    Japanese literature
    To be honest, Sairin Yuusha is one of the worst WNs I've ever read.  I kept reading until it cut off because I thought it would eventually get good, but the protagonist is weak and there is never any real progress with the heroine.  The story itself is a revenge story about a hero who is murdered by his own party right before he is about to fight the Demon King.  Thirty years later, he is summoned again and starts on a journey of revenge, forming an alliance with a former demon queen and generally wreaking havoc on his enemies in a world that he feels betrayed him.  
    His revenge is pretty graphic - so those who like that kind of thing will probably get off on this - but, to be honest, he is so focused on the revenge part of his journey that he never really grows as a person until right before the author stopped posting it (literally in the last volume).  
    If the writer had included some softer moments to cushion the constant 'push forward and get revenge', I would have liked it more.  I also would have liked it if the heroine's personality had fit her role in the story, but unfortunately, she often was the source of me being jerked out of my immersion in the story.
  20. Clephas
    This particular WN is remarkable for a lot of reasons.  The protagonist of this story is reincarnated in another world as the adopted son of a lich general in the service of Dairokuten Maou (lol, if you can guess who else got reincarnated, I'll clap in congrats), and he joins the demonic armies as a commander while hiding the fact that he is human behind a skull mask and lich's robes.  The story itself begins after he has already begun to become famous as a conquering commander but before his real talents  have been shown to the world.  The protagonist really is the most powerful mage in the story, having survived his grandpa's spartan (and inhuman) training methods, but his major talents actually lie in strategy and administration, meaning he is more general and administrator than he is a mage most of the time.
    There is no actual romance in the main story (despite the fact that about seven women have fallen for him by the end), so those who desire romance in their stories shouldn't go after this one.  The closest he comes to a romance is his surprisingly intimate relationship with Sati, his maid who was a slave of the lord of a city he conquered in the prologue.  Within the story, Sati is the personification of the 'common humankind', whereas Jiron (the protagonist's aide-de-campe, who is an orc) represents the monster races' common people.  The viewpoints these two provide during the story just with their comments and actions help to provide perspective, a technique that is often used by skilled writers.
    Most of the story goes back and forth between Ike (the protagonist) overcoming incredible odds to push the Demon King's agenda forward and him building up his territory of Ivalice using his knowledge of Earth.  I honestly thought a lot that him revealing his true self to Lilith would have made for interesting results, but, unfortunately, to the very end, Ike only reveals himself to a very select group of people who saw through him anyway.
    This story is complete, thankfully, with a prequel gaiden story and a single after story attached after.  If you like strategist/tactician protagonists in fantasy worlds, it is a good choice to read.
  21. Clephas

    Japanese literature
    (Note: To be clear, this is an unfinished VN with over 500 chapters)
    Hell Mode is the WN I recently began (and finished to the current point) reading.  It is another reincarnation one, where the protagonist was a heavy gamer who is one of those types that loves high-difficulty setups, reveling in grinding, conquering dungeons, and generally indulging in his desire to see more.  He goes to a website where he gets the choice of difficulty and his job, and he picks the hardest difficulty Hell Mode (where everything is 100x harder than Normal Mode) and the high-difficulty job, Summoner.  
    The world he ends up in is one where people see jobs as 'talents' and talent determines how far a person can go (if they aren't a noble) in life.  However, it is also a world threatened by a demon lord, and much of the story past the first fifth of what has already been written is war against the demon king's forces.  
    The protagonist has terrible 'gamer's brain' and thinks of everything in terms of gaming, to the point where he examines every aspect of his skills, those of his companions, the tools at hands, the powers of his enemies, etc.  One of the running jokes of the series is how he keeps dragging his friends into grinding in dungeons to gain levels and skill levels and their reactions to it when he passes certain limits. 
    Honestly, this one was a fun read, and I'm looking forward to him finishing the latest volume (probably sometime in September, judging by his writing speed and how fast his previous entries were completed).  I have the feeling that there will be at least two more volumes after the one he is writing now, so give it a year to a year and a half, and this series will probably come to a conclusion.
    One thing that might make people lose interest is that the protagonist has absolutely no interest in romance or the opposite (or same) sex in that way.  While there are a lot of indications that girls around him are infatuated with him, he doesn't even notice one way or the other.  So don't expect there to be any romance on his end or ecchi situations.  This is a story about a guy who loves figuring out how the world works and making it work for him and gains great joy from difficult situations.
    Edit: There are other elements that made it attractive for me.  In particular, the existence of a friendly rival in the form of the hero Hermios, whose existence is oddly humorous despite the seriousness of the situations they meet in.  In addition, the main antagonist (so far) Kyuber is a surprisingly decent villain character who gives off the proper aura of the shadow behind the throne with his own agenda you want to see in any similar situation.  
    A major downside I failed to mention is that the growth in the story is all grinding (as fits with the MMO-addict's methodology the protagonist loves), which sometimes made it a bit hard to follow the protagonist's gleeful heavy gamerism.
  22. Clephas

    Japanese literature
    Niito Dakedo Hello Work ni ittara Isekai ni Tsuretakareta
    This is a WN by Katsura Kasuga.  An unemployed NEET named Masaru goes to Hello Work (the official Japanese employment agency) and signs a contract for what he thinks is playing a video game, and instead he gets dropped into a world about to be destroyed (or so he is told) and told to test Itou's (apparently that world's god) new skill system for twenty years (incidentally, the amount of time until the end of the world).  If he survives the twenty years, he'll be sent back to Japan with twenty years worth of six-figure pay to arrive at the same time he left in his young body, if he dies he... dies.  
    The draw of this series is, as usual with Isekai these days, harem.  The protagonist, Masaru, doesn't have any hesitation about building a harem, and after a bunch of semi-hilarious events early on, he actually manages to form one with four heroines (one cat-girl slave, a priestess, a mage, and a loli judge).  The first half of what was written before the author dropped off the face of the earth is mostly SOL with adventurer everyday life.  It is the second half where things start to expand into having a real story, where the harem becomes almost incidental to progressing the plot.  Perhaps the most frustrating part is that the story cuts off in the middle of the final chapter...
    Rettougan no Tensei Majutsushi
    This one follows a similar plot to Shikkakumon no Saikyou Kenja and Shijou Saikyou Maou.  The protagonist was a great sorcerer who defeated the demon lord with his friends, but because of his eyes, he suffered from persecution.  As a result, he decided to use magic to reincarnate himself two hundred years later, where he was reborn in a body he designed from the ground up.  This story, before it was cut off by the author's likely demise (given the fact that ALL his works stopped being released within a two-week period).  
    Honestly, given how high-paced this one was, I would have been happy to read it once it was complete, but the abrupt stop in the middle of things getting interesting pretty much killed any fondness I might have had.
    Isekai Shihai no Skill Taker
    This one is by the same writer as Rettougan and literally cuts off in the last volume (much to my frustration).  However, as summoning isekai go, this one is notable for the protagonist being a pretty fascinating martial artist, as well as a kichiku character with a fondness for tentacles and beautiful women.  I honestly enjoyed everything about the story, and while I nearly flew into a rage when I saw it cut off literally in the last part of the story, I can imagine what was likely to happen next fairly easily.  
    The protagonist of this one has a tendency to indulge in 'enlightened self-interest', which means he is generally selfish but realizes that the world doesn't revolve around him and he is willing to take action to make things better around him.  
    Maou to Ryuuou ni Sodaterareta Shounen wa Gakuen de Musou suru you desu
    I started this WN last night and finished the ten volumes that have come out so far about ten minutes ago.  It was too early for me to make a new post, so I chose to include this one in this post.  
    This story follows a young villager who gets trapped in the seal containing the Maou and Ryuuou from three hundred years before.  Unlike them, he is not permanently trapped, so they decide to train him (despite his lack of talent), a task that takes several subjective centuries (time passes slower on the outside than it does on the inside, to the point where a year outside is three hundred inside).  The villager, Ruisha, has an intense desire for power, which reaches the levels of madness at times, and as a result, he gladly spends the next three hundred years learning from his teachers (who become closer to surrogate mothers and wives to him as time goes by).  
    The above chapter is actually the first volume of the WN, and once it was over, he went back into the world and headed for the Kingdom, where he accidentally enrolls in the Magic Academy, where he pretty much does the same thing every op protagonist in this kind of story does... forms an accidental harem and turns the school castes upside down.  
    This story is incomplete and the writer has slowed down his releases significantly in recent months.  However, what is there is fairly high quality.  In particular, the quality of the romance/ichaicha is extremely high, as is that of the battle scenes.
  23. Clephas

    Japanese literature
    To be honest, this is probably the best of the last six WNs I've read in the last month.  It is also complete.  This one is a 'same world, different protagonist' story from the same world as Elf Tensei kara no Cheat Kenkokuki, and the protagonist of that one is the father one of the two heroines.  However, even if you haven't read the first story, this one stands on its own quite well.
    The protagonist, Souji, was a player of a game on Earth that was insanely realistic, with time compression that allowed him to spend 168 years testing everything that world had to offer.  The game had several unusual aspects.  For one, it was single-player.  For another, it had permadeath.  One thing all the players noticed was that, no matter how hard they tried, no matter how long they lived, things always ended in tragedy.  Souji in particular, lost his beloved Kuna over and over again, and one day when he was about to try to save her again, the end of service for the game was announced.  As he was about to despair, he was offered a chance to go to a real world where he would have a chance to save Kuna for real.  Naturally, he leaps at this chance and is reborn with all the built-up knowledge of that world's magic and crafting techniques he had put together over the 168 subjective years he spent in the game.
    The protagonist is definitely a cheat character, but that doesn't mean there aren't struggles.  In actuality, while he doesn't struggle with the day to day issues, dealing with the issues important to him is always a struggle, meaning this isn't just an overpowered protagonist dominating the arena (in fact, for most of the story he is merely overpowered for his rank, not overpowered compared to everyone around him).  The romantic parts of the story are fairly cute, but the WN in general is pretty no-frills as a whole, with relatively little normal SOL and a ton of action and drama.  Overall, it is a good story if you want something that more or less sticks to the plot for the entirety of the story, but it isn't something you'll enjoy if you want to see a lot of side-tracking and swimsuit scenes, lol.
  24. Clephas
    To be blunt, this WN is a straight-out slave harem story in another world.  The protagonist is a run-down salaryman who escaped a black company workplace only to end up summoned to a world where the king was raring to put his summoned heroes to work.  Quite naturally, the protagonist wants nothing to do with this, so he arranges to get himself thrown out of the castle and goes off on his own.  
    The protagonist, like most summoned heroes, has a unique skill (typical of this kind of story).  In his case, it allows him to take apart and restructure the skills of himself and his slaves (the first of which is the last Mazoku, Cecille).  He makes a ton of weird skills during the story that are nonetheless incredibly effective (usually in an amusing way), making his slave wives ever more powerful while seeking to find a way to live the easy life without ever having to work.
    This is a story about a guy who saves the world repeatedly by accident while doing his best to avoid becoming famous, getting involved with nobility or royalty, and take care of his adoring wives.  
    I will say that the story goes off on a tangent a lot, and there a ton of side-stories that break the flow of the story as a whole.  While the harem ichaicha was generally good, I got pretty frustrated with the way it never really got serious, even at moments when it probably should have.  A lot of it was because he kept creating skills that made his ever-growing harem more and more powerful whenever he got the least bit worried about where things were going (and usually ended up just overpowering the enemies without any real trouble). 
  25. Clephas

    Japanese literature
    Omake Tenseisha is the story of a girl who lived through hell on earth and had a new hell waiting for her when she was tossed aside by the gods and reincarnated again.  For those who have read a Snake's Life or Kumo, this will be a story that is somewhat familiar.  The protagonist is fairly similar to Kumoko (naturally ruthless, tends to think cheerfully most of the time, ends up eating everything that is her enemy, lol).  
    The story itself is one long 'driven out of a town', 'ate everything that got in my way', 'accidentally screwed up the gods' plans', etc.  Basically, the protagonist's appearance (black hair, black eyes) makes her a cursed child in the eyes of her new world, and she is inevitably driven out of any town she tries to stay in.  She also kills and eats anything she can without any real discrimination (especially after she learns how to transform matter into mana in her stomach), and gets ever more overpowered as the story goes along.  She also knocks her fellow reincarnators' lives off the rails the gods put before them on a fairly regular basis (without them or her knowing it).
    That brings me back to the gods... think of the gods of her new world as a bunch of sociopaths that think of the souls they reincarnate as characters in a reality tv show and you'll get the picture.
    Generally a fun and hilarious read with a somewhat hyperactive writer.
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