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Mr Poltroon

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    Mr Poltroon reacted to Zakamutt for a blog entry, Translation By Example: Principles for minimizing errors   
    For any fan translators unfamiliar with the jargon:
    source language/text = language/text being translated from
    target language/text = language/text being translated into
    While writing sufficiently well in your target language is important to ensure both that the finished product is a smooth read and that no errors occur because of you being misinterpreted by your editor or audience, it’s all for nothing if you didn’t interpret your source correctly in the first place.
    Reading a source text without making errors can be surprisingly difficult even with a decent grasp of both your source and target language. Certainly most fan translators, and more professional translators than I’d like, are lacking in at least one of those two areas: personally, I am objectively significantly worse at Japanese than the average native Japanese high schooler¹.
    There are more ways than one to avoid mistranslations, and often you can compensate for lacking in skill by being more cautious while reading the source text. Personally, I like to focus on two basic principles: always trying to detect possible gaps in your knowledge, and always considering whether your translation actually makes sense.
    Does It Make Sense?
    Bar things that are written specifically to evoke surrealism, writers usually try to avoid things that obviously make no sense. This is a pretty general principle and editors and proofreaders can both use it even if the translator does not, so it’s always a bit strange when I see some weird-ass obviously illogical mistranslation pop up. Theoretically QA/proofreading is extra powerful in this regard for games, as they will usually play the game as they work, so they can spot backgrounds or character movements contradicting the text too. For a subtle example of this, have something from a translation I love to hate on, Seabed:
    Now when I saw this ingame it made no sense at all. Why would it be darker after you turned on the light? Part of this is probably just questionable doujinge graphical accuracy (and maybe needing the emphasize the light / mimicking how it would actually look as your eyes adjusted), but I would still make a note on this line were I QAing this². Now the Steam release of Seabed happens to let you switch to Japanese…
    I flipped the switch on the wall, turning on just the nightlight (ナツメ球).
    Well, that makes a lot more sense. The second background was probably going for an adjustment effect where everything but the light looked darker, but it wasn’t showing a bright light. Well, that or background 1 was a sort of generic movie-darkness-but-not-really kind of deal. The point is, we have a solution to the puzzle.
    If your translation is contradicted by other parts of the game, whether it be the situation the characters are in, the lines before it or after (painfully common), or something else, you should look at those line extra damn hard. Writers do sometimes make mistakes, but it’s probably you. If you know someone with higher Japanese ability that can help check your translation of the line, ask them (make sure to give sufficient context if at all possible. I can’t believe how many people seem constitutionally unable to do this, though the worst offenders are learners rather than translators). Until the line makes sense or you’re confident it’s not supposed to, I recommend leaving the line/section blank or at least leaving a strongly worded note to come back to it later.
    Always Be Suspicious
    When I was still a high school kid, a freelance literary translator did a presentation at our school³. One thing she said really stuck with me: the principle of always keeping a careful eye out for anything that might not mean what you think it means.
    The example she used was of a translator that had managed to get toy shaped like a dog from a lady walking her toy poodle, a small poodle breed, in English — leading to a rather surreal mental image⁴. I suspect this line wasn’t very important, but that’s not always going to be the case, and this kind of mistake is always an embarrassment.
    One key skill to avoid that embarrassment is to grow an intuitive sense of what you don’t actually know — if you’ve hung out in some environments, you might actually already have gotten a slice of this with your English, or another language you know well. For example, did you know that strictly speaking bombastic is only to be used for things that are flashy but have little substance? I myself find myself googling words I only sort of know sometimes (…usually after unwisely pressing the enter key in some chat. At least I edit myself quick!). It doesn’t always go well. Ask me about the time I subtly misused reticent sometime… or don’t, actually. A soul can only take so much.
    Either way, that same nagging feeling — that maybe you don’t actually know this — can be a valuable ally to maintain the proper level of suspicion when translating. You’re looking for when the structure isn’t quite like what you’ve seen before, or when you’re thinking you can figure out the meaning of something from its parts — look up とてもじゃないが for a real mindfuck of a phrase. And as above, you’re also looking for things that don’t make sense.
    Always be suspicious of things that don’t make sense
    Showing the interlinked nature of all your guards against mistranslation, the earlier example with the nightlight might also have been prevented by being suspicious. If it was a translation-side error, going deeper than a cursory google images search might have helped get it right — looking at the page, you’d think to yourself: do I really know this is just a normal lightbulb? Looking at ナツメ fruits they look kind of red, too. I’d better look further…
    More examples
    I was going to review Seabed for Fuwanovel, which is part of the reason why I took a lot of screens going through it. It fell through because I simply could not complete it: my examination had turned me hypercritical and practically every line bothered me — mostly for clumsy flow rather than translation oddities, though there were more of those too. But hey, I got some pictures for this post for all the trouble. Anyway, have another example:
    Okay, so this doesn’t make sense. How are you seeing things in pitch black darkness? Let’s look at the Japanese:
    見通しの悪い isn’t pitch black, it’s just the dark of the night making it hard to see. Now it makes sense that you can see the graffiti again, nice. It’s possible this was some kind of botched adaptation due to the background being solid black, but I don’t buy it.
    For my last example, lets use this line from 新説魔法少女 (Shinsetsu Mahou Shoujo), an SRPG/VN hybrid with an ensemble cast of Japanese students, mostly in middle school. Moka is a first-year high school student who used to be in the swimming club last year. Before she graduated she was in the same club as Nagato, who is being discussed here due to her habit of not showing up for things (she still gets good results academically, and is also very strong athletically).
    悪化してたか…… 試験だとか総体だとか 大事な時にサボる癖は治したほうがいいよ。
    Huh, I guess it’s gotten worse… She should really fix her habit of skipping important events like tests and… 総体?
    I was actually just reading this right now, and at first it didn’t make sense, or at least sounded extremely strained, with any of the definitions of 総体 in edict⁵. So I checked kenkyuusha (shin waei daijiten) and a J-J dictionary and they still had nothing illuminating. Now I was starting to think it could be some of my more unlikely interpretations. I checked out そうたい without the kanji to see if it might be using the wrong kanji; 相対 seemed more plausible in the sentence, but I was still not feeling it; my Japanese ability was telling me it wouldn’t look like that grammatically and the interpretation felt strained. My intuition told me that 総体 would be an event somewhat similar to a 試験, maybe sports related given who the speaker was. So I googled 総体 and the second result is a Japanese Wikipedia disambiguation page.
    An abbreviation of the Interscholastic Athletic Meet. Synonymous with [various katakana words on the theme of “inter-high”]. Well, that confirms my suspicions. It’s some kind of sporting event. This definiton actually specifically mentions high school events, but there’s nothing saying you can’t have them in middle school.
    This interpretation makes sense; a swimming club member would want gifted other club members to be at their competitions. Even if I didn’t use that principle, suspicion could also have saved me and made me actually google the word. But Japanese knowledge also helped me: Japanese often shortens longer terms into a word using some of the term’s kanji; for example 自動販売機 becomes the probably more familiar 自販機, and I knew to suspect this. In the end, the more Japanese you know, the less errors you’ll catch with these methods… but remember, kids: a totally radical book once said that pride comes before a fall. It had a point⁶.
    To tie this up, I think my soul has recovered from the baring some time ago, so let me tell you of another English-related fuckup: for the longest time I used to think “craven” was related to “craving”, and none of the times I’d read it had disabused me of this notion. I then saw it used in the Tokyo Babel translation in a way that was clearly incompatible with craving anything, so I looked it up… and was enlightened. It was a sad moment, because at the back of my mind I knew I’d misread it like 10 times by now. With that said, I kinda blame the English language for this one. That, and not having dictionary lookup just by hovering over the word. Man, the browser addons we have these days are pretty dang good...
    ¹ The JLPT N1, well known for not being particularly indicative of ability but seen as a decent anchoring point nevertheless, is apparently supposed to be easily passable to any student that has finished Japanese high school. I originally wrote most of this essay in ~2017, when I didn’t think I would pass it — I now think I have a decent chance, with pass/fail mostly down to listening ability (not very relevant for text translation) and if a lot of media-obscure grammar points I don’t know happen to show up. I’m still much worse than a Japanese high schooler, though — you’ll have to believe me on this one.
    ² It’s hard to know where exactly this went wrong, and it’s possible only QA could have saved it from what could be both a reasonable editing decision or a translation oversight. Maybe the translator used google images and saw the bulbs looked more or less like normal bulbs and just went with that; ナツメ球 is in edict, but edict is unreliable and a professional translator might understandably avoid it (I wouldn’t – it has better coverage on a lot of random more contemporary/obscure stuff, though I if I were truly high effort I would probably get access to more updated online daijirin/shinwaei dictionaries).
    ³ Among other language pairs she was a JP->SE translator I believe, but I can’t remember if she did it firsthand or second. I also remember the title of one book she worked on, Shine, a localized title she didn’t pick or particularly like and which seems to be entirely impossible for me to find anywhere. I also don’t know if she was entirely a literary tl, it’s not like those get paid a lot, though I guess probably more than VN translators (let it be known that the muffled crying of our industry professionals can be heard in the background of this sentence).
    ⁴ It’s possible she was actually just holding it or something and I’m misremembering, but this way the example has more of the dimensions I want to discuss in this post.
    ⁵ At the time, Translation Aggregator with JParser and mecab was my first-line lookup choice. These days I have to look things up infrequently enough that a browser addon that has shinmeikai and shin eiwa daijiten 5th ed EPWING dictionary lookup in addition to JMdict (basically fancy non-boomer edict) serves my needs better. Those did not help me here, though.
    ⁶ In keeping with the principles of this post, I ended up checking out the origin of the proverb. The passage used to read “a totally radical guy once said…,” since I was assuming it had been directly said by Jesus (also, it was funnier that way). At least it really was from the Bible! Though the fall implied is supposed to be “calamitous”, apparently, so maybe we’re using it a bit lightly here. Then again, a bad enough mistranslation really could cause a disaster… though if you’re translating the nuke launch protocol, I really hope to whatever deity will still give me the time of day that you actually know what you’re doing. The rest of you, feel free to muddle along doing your best like us other mortals.
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    Mr Poltroon reacted to Zakamutt for a blog entry, 2021 in review   
    To procrastinate doing anything productive, I have decided to write a summary of what I did last year.
    During the early parts — months really — of the year I was kind of reeling from having had a very frightening GERD — acid reflux — flareup. It’s fairly hard to tell the symptoms from a heart attack, and paranoia about the whole deal caused anxiety issues. In the end it receded… when I started eating less and barely eating at all when I was not very hungry. Would’ve been nice to have tried that earlier. GERD and anxiety seem to feed into each other in weird and fucky ways and the literature associating them interests me because I have to wonder if GERD might actually be the egg and not the chicken (the egg came first[1]).
    To this day I sort of have a trigger-adjacent thing for hearing ~120bpm music with a steady beat — disco speed — where my heart will like go along with it like what disco music does to you and that will trigger warning signals from somewhere and seriously what the fuck? It’s slowly getting better though, idk.
    Relatedly, I’ve discovered that my issues with various chest skin pains and neck pains are all due to me having absolutely awful ergonomics for any position I can take while using my computer in bed, and I don’t like using it anywhere else, thus I’m fucked. No longer worried about the various pains, but very annoyed by them.
    I’ve gotten a new wider bed, a data plan for my smartphone, and at the end of the year, a new smartphone that doesn’t suck massive dick (poco x3 pro). I also got my first taste of imported Japanese manga, which has been pretty pleasant compared to scans.
    I’ve slightly re-intensified my guitar playing habit, and I don’t occasionally hate myself for not playing enough to ever play well any more. Maybe one day I’ll actually record that one tune I don’t have a good recording of yet. I’ve also started using a guitar with lower action since the one I was always using before has VERY high action and is hard as fuck to play.
    I’ve also started enjoying minecraft speedrun streams (RSG 16.1, anything Elysaku does). This started out as me watching SmallAnt and him doing mc speedruns, after which I branched out to Couriway watching his 1k seeds challenge as well as various other lesser known but more cracked runners like crookst. Overall I’ve branched out a bit from mostly watching hearthstone streams.

    In January I finished watching the FFVI translation comparison by Clyde Mandelin / tomato, which I had started watching the month before. I watched the entirety of every video and counted the Japanese lines read for Tadoku[3] purposes using the Microsoft calculator as a makeshift clicker. I guess I’ve sort of finished a playthrough of the game now Kappa. At this point I was really fucked and couldn’t make myself read a vn due to anxiety issues or neck muscle posture issues or both but I could watch a video, or something. This ended up being most of my tadoku contribution for the month, which was certainly weird. I do recommend the series if you can read Japanese, it’s interesting. Not sure how it’s like to watch as a pleb, maybe it’s still cool? Lots of plebs do like mato’s site. Also I’m sorry, the whole JOP bit I’m doing will unfortunately not improve much as I carry on writing. You have been warned, &c.
    Pre-edit opening screen. Note “radiating humming” instead of “radiating hum” or whatever and the lack of commas and stuff.The first VN I completed in 2021, in February, was Digital Seclusion, a rather doujin EVN created by a member of a forum I still haunt, ghostlike: Fuwanovel. I liked it, but thought the prose could use about five or so editing passes, besides needing another proofreading pass. I ended up doing my usual bit where I comment that the writing is all cringe and needs an editor and I expect no response, but instead the writer, Zalor (whom I had some rapport with, admittedly) said that it would be helpful if I could proofread/edit — so I did, through the medium of screenshots and text in his discord DMs.
    And that’s the first screen done.In the end while I think I helped improve the text a decent bit, it was also clearly a bit of an auteur work with a distinct (if perhaps not optimal) voice and I didn’t push too hard for changes, opting to just suggest stuff (and a lot of suggestions there were). Thus while I allowed myself to be named in the credits in the end, and it’s certainly nice to be in the credits of a cool VN, I always have mixed emotions about it — maybe someone will discover my name in there one day and think it’s representative of my writing abilities? I have the dumbest fears. Sometimes I try to imagine what gender dysphoria would be like and apparently “someone has the wrong opinion about you” is a vague match so then I imagine being in a room and knowing someone incorrectly thinks I’m a trash writer or translator and it’s actually extremely uncomfortable where the fuck am I going with this. I mean I think there’s even a disclaimer in the credits too. Really this will never be a real problem for me.
    Kinda waifu nglI started reading 12riven in February (also read in March and April). I didn’t finish, as is my stalling wont, but I got some endings and got some distance into the true route. I found it very enjoyable, and the pacing nice and tight most of the time, but I do worry about whether it can tie it all together. Also the basic mechanism of the in-universe psionic powers is, I must admit, pretty dumb. It’s given to you in a scientific manner but it basically precludes a materialistic outlook. I mean R11 has this too I guess but it’s more blatantly cringe in this. Anyway if you can go along with the dumb the rest is pretty entertaining. EOPs are missing out! They’ll probably remain missing out even if it ever gets translated (rip lemnisca tl) because Uchikoshi is a fucking memelord and loves adding plot relevant puns all over the place. It’s going to be hard to get all of them to the level of the original, but who knows?
    Definitely a shimaisou lineI also tried out Shimaisou 2 (1 is a cool dark yuri utsuge) for a few hundred lines and then stalled it because idk. I tried continuing my long stalled playthrough of zanane but the common route kept on being boring and unfunny and very ドM when I am ドS so I stalled it again after a few thousand lines. I might never come back.
    Nothing strange going on here at allIn April I read a chapter and a bit of the slow-start fucked up yuri yandere mystery-ish game Hitofuta. I then stalled it, though it was definitely an interesting experience after the initial SoL of like 1000 lines was past. Ask me for a download if you want, there’s some fuckery where non-jp IPs can’t access the download page for it (but it’s free doe!).
    I also started Sutekano which was kind of interesting, partly picking it up because so many people seemed to hate it for whatever reason, and stalled it after a bit.
    yeah right JinI also tried Asanyaa, which made me realize I found TS content strangely enticing. Going to chalk it up to autogynephilia or whatever just being a normal thing in a subset of non-trans men tbh I think Ozy did a survey and it showed something similar ignore selection effects. Anyway I stalled it after the first h scene. Apparently it’s a moege not a nukige somehow? Idk man. Anyway, when’s the glorious transhumanist future with effortless bodyswaps?
    The second VN I completed – also in April – was Tsukiyo ni Otome wa Tegami wo Nurasu, which is a horny-ish spooky mystery yuri game that actually sort of plays into a “predatory lesbians” meme, though not in a way that really bothered me. Not that things bother me in general. It’s weird but was fun enough to read. It would be an intresting translation challenge, as you’d want to write in like 7 different styles for the various letters at the start!
    Apparently it was created by two het women who flatly deny any homosexuality whatsoever in the afterword-y extras. Also, those same women created a doujin otome game called Toki-Hako (toki-bako? who knows…) that has an insanely high rating on EGS and a rave review, but there are like 3 votes total so who knows.
    May saw me playing Makoto Möbius (given the メ I reject the vndb romanization, but not with enough fervor to actually change it). It’s my first CHARON game, and I guess it does interest me in other games by the writer but not massively so. It’s a neat plot with the CHARON signature menhera girls and some other funky plot twists included. That said you can just up and miss endings that really matter to the plot with ease, even after having gotten the true ending, so it’s a good thing I checked a guide. Bad design imo. I played in Japanese but to my understanding there is a translation, on whose quality I cannot comment other than my usual prior[2] of translations being bad.
    I’m pretty sure I took this screen purely because of its amusing content out of contextI also started on Aibeya 2 in May because I was testing it to see if it would hook or something because someone was having trouble with it, and caprice directed me to read it for a bit because the heroine was pretty heckin kwi. I read until it started to turn from moege to probable nukige in regards to h-scene density and decided I was done with it. For once, it’s more dropped than stalled… though you never know!
    And for my last May ge, I read most of Sakyuseka after a friend recommended it as being not quite the nukige it looked like, and in fact a pretty good plotge with a romantic core (that just happened to have a lot of porn you could skip if you wanted, I guess.) I got until the best part of the game according to said friend and stalled it because LOOK I DO NOT NEED A REASON IT WILL HAPPEN. Anyway, recommend I checking it out, it’s cool and there’s some decent porn too if you’re into that. Very high production values for a doujinge.
    In June all I did on the VN front was a read of a few hundred lines of Kira Kira, since it was being used to demo the japanese VN streaming site OOParts and could be tried for free. I concluded that I liked Setoguchi’s writing style and also that it wasn’t something incompatible with English or anything, just would take a decent writer with enough time to work on their wording enough, so basically any translation of his works is likely to be a failure in this industry. As shown by the Musicus TL getting disowned by most JOPs, but I digress. Really when he’s not doing a stream-of-consciousness thing (which I didnt see in kira kira but have seen in Carnival screenshots) he’s just doing moderately complex sentences with good imagery and effective prose. There’s no magic nipponese essence of whatever he’s just kind of good! It’s totally doable! Urobuchi is the same except maybe when he’s doing Chinese kanji autism shit! I totally know this 100% from having read like 200 lines. Anyway. Pity the actual Kira Kira tl out there is much worse still than even the Musicus tl, which is, I understand, merely not all that well written in comparison to the original.
    In July I played the bit-more-spice-than-usual yuri VN Tsuyuchiru Letter. It has really nice sprite direction and it fairly easy to read, so do read it in Japanese if you wish as a beginner. The spicier elements do bring enough excitement and delicious suffering to the table to make it an enjoyable read, though perhaps the most interesting characters are the ones they’re clearly hoping to include in a sequel (the game folder is even called “tsuyuchuri1” but they haven’t announced number 2 yet ree). The novel ends somewhat conclusively, but has sequel hooks for other couples, so if you hate even the sequel hook thing you might want to avoid the title.
    The translation by Meru should be mostly solid, I trust Meru to not suck (but apparently she wasn’t looking at the sprite direction when translating, not having been given the actual script, so it’s possible some of that is off in English given that a lot of it is midline expression changes etc). Also there’s a plot CG in it that’s edited with chinese text in the CN loc but doesn’t have an English version as far as I can tell (though you get the text read in the normal textbox too so you’re not really missing crucial information). Modestly recommended for yuri fans.
    Secondly, I started on Hotel., a VN which exemplifies the infuriating Japanese habit of ending the names of works with periods. Other than my rage at its typographical inconvenice, Hotel manages to be very different from any other VN I’ve read, feeling more like a… sitcom? than anything else, though the plot does hint as something a bit darker than just comedy.
    It follows — in sort of ambiguous third person-y view, sometimes first — the daily lives of the quirky employees of the titular hotel, from its clearly autistic manager to its whimsical owner to the couple that keeps having arguments about their upcoming marriage to the be-afroed black guy speaking simultaneously in kansai-ben and engrish that tried to make everything a manzai scene to the mysterious loli on a mission with an eyepatch and insane guitar chops to the nocturnal, bisexual and horny bartender woman who keeps trying to unsuccessfully woo the manager, along with also trying to get at the cute cook girl just in case. And I’ve only covered half of the colorful array of characters in this thing! Nor do I know much about the mystery it’s building up to yet, but the Hotel clearly isn’t normal in any way! Anyway, stalled as usual, but maybe I’ll read more of it.
    Third, I read like half of chapter 1 of Mememasa. It’s ok I guess.
    In month 8 (I refuse to fuck with month names above July. Fuck the roman emperors who fucked up all the names). I read Trash Waifu. It was a qt enough short vn that fulfilled personal emotional fetishes of mine, and surprisingly ok for a random EVN I picked up because it had a meme title. I still haven’t read the sequel. Read it if the concept more or less laid in the description appeals to you I guess.
    Good osananajimi. Naturally, she probably likes you but ur donkan.I also started on My Merry May using a ps2 emulator and the combined orig+sequel release My Merry May with be. For the most part it’s a galge, but apart from the sci-fi elements which do end up mattering for the plot somewhat, what really struck me was the unusual and rounded feel of the characters.
    Apart from all the sci-fi aspects of the setting, you also get forced into being the effective parent of a little robot girl that learns REALLY fast. Also she’s pretty hot and calls you oniichan but there is no porn in this game oh well.Unlike a lot of arrow gay THESE DAYS (I feel), each character is in service to themselves, not to their archetype, and won’t always act the way you expect – but the way they act will always make sense, in the end. I picked up the title because it was super high rated on EGS and the (a?) writer had also worked on Symphonic Rain, which has the same nuanced characters I like in this.
    My queenShe can cook too, so we know she’s not born after 1993I actually read pretty far into the game, getting into the route of the one middle-schooler girl in the game (I just really vibed with her she’s a dandere and mature please understand). Just after I got to some realdeal plot in her route, I had to get my laptop fan repaired and it took a month. Maybe I’ll actually go back to this one, I may have found a waifu in Misao. Also there really doesn’t seem to be a single ingame hint that the 13-16 relationship is considered weird by anyone yet. Funky from a contemporary Western perspective. But I enjoy it.
    I guess there is thisI also also started on Despiria, a Dreamcast (as you can see the theme of this month is I emulate shit) Atlus RPG. It’s a kind of sci-fi cum catholic cum biological horror setting where you’re a nun with psychic powers.
    Narration text. Text presentation is cool and varied in general in thiswhat a cutieDive text is heavily animated, fragmented, the works. Good luck JOPs(?) You can “dive” into objects or perople to read minds or in the case of objects, leftover emotions, which helps you gather information on dangerous heretics pushing drugs and other unchristian nastiness.
    Also the battle system – though it doesn’t get used that much in the excellent opening area – has you use two persona-ish things with a persona crafting system.
    It’s text-heavy and unhookable, and worse, has time-limited text display that you also can’t repeat. But it’s pretty cool and I can see myself returning to it from its stalled state at the third area. It would be cool to see a translation of it… even if it would be shit as usual.
    He doesn’t like the psychic nuns. He’s kind of just a dick in general, though.After this I get fucked by lack of laptop and when I finally get it in December I don’t really do much except read Hotel for a short session in The Moe Way’s discord server.
    I could list LNs and manga I read as well but I’ve been writing for hours oh god oh fuck if you want it ask me. Read Urasekai Picnic and Yagakimi!
    Background: you need 180 ECTS (hereafter points) to get a Computer Science BA in Sweden. This is my current goal, though since I am lazy as fuck I have been doing it at a modest pace of 5 credits per quarter – the usual pace is 15 per quarter. I had ~115p in partial credit and ~95p in completed credit at the start of the year. The partial credit thing will be explained later.
    The year started off with a fat L as I managed to fail a 10-point (double length course, started in late 2020) in calculus. This was basically self-inflicted as I studied approximately fuck all for the latter half of the course. Essentially every failure I perform is self-inflicted. That’s how it goes.
    I then went into the second quarter of the year and bullshitted my way into the statistics course that required me to have passed the calculus course, because my exam results weren’t in yet so I couldn’t know that they wouldn’t pass my obviously-failed exam out of clerical error (I never technically lied in any official communique). Anyway I passed the statistics course, so KEKW I was right about doing fine in the course anyway. 5 points to the Zaka team.
    For third quarter I signed up to ONCE AND FOR ALL catch up on a course I half passed 10 or so years ago. The course has changed massively since then and the written exams I had failed were now replaced with coding assignments. This was actually quite fun, if a lot of work. First, I had to write a generic hash table in C, with various utility functions, auto-resizing, function pointers for element comparisons, lots of really annoying but also cool stuff. Also a lot of tests for it.
    I then mailed the instructor about it and he didn’t respond because he was sick. I mailed him again and microshit office decided that THAT specific mail was the one damn mail it was going to put in the spam folder. It hasn’t put anything in the spam after that. At the same time, my laptop fan was dying and I killed it dead trying to fix it (HP laptop design is SHIIIIIIIIIIIITTT ree). Thus I was limited to a 5-year-old smartphone to check basically everything, and if I wanted to code I had to either use university workstations (that unfortunately are FUCKED half the time and near unusably slow) or an old laptop that was already crappy when my mom got it five years ago. I discovered many fascinating bugs and difficulties trying to navigate the world with 25gb of disk space and 4gb of ram on a win8.1 machine. For example, booting a vagrant VM for c coding was so slow I had to increase the timeout or it would fail. Good stuff. The laptop redeemed itself later when I didn’t have to use a VM, though.
    Anyway so about the mail to the instructor about presenting my assignment completion – I send another mail saying wtf do you have a spam filter on links and he says “uhh I replied earlier” and im like “no I did not see that but ok when do we meet”. Eventually I notice it’s been in the spam for a week plus. FUCK. But yeah, I do the presentation and it goes well.
    Unfortunately the lack of instructor response demotivated me, so I lost 2+ weeks of time mostly not working on the second assignment I needed to pass, a Java assignment to create a symbolic calculator (but not the parser). In the end, combined with the miserably slow university systems fucking me over, I don’t get the Java assignment done until way into the last period of the year.
    The last period, I’m without a laptop and have to somehow manage an algorithms course with a coding assignment component. I sign up to be randomly assigned a partner after briefly considering partnering up with someone I actually know and not doing it because I am a fuck. Anyway my luck ends up pretty decent as I hit a competent enough partner that doesn’t mind being a bit chill (though we somehow end up getting 29/30 points for the assignments – which meant we were guaranteed a grade bump on the exam – which will never not amuse me, since this was described as “going all out” but I certainly did not feel I did. Maybe my mediocre LaTeX skills and good English writing ability is rarer than I thought…). We have some tough times with the assignments sometimes, but we get through it.
    The lectures are not that great and I end up slacking off on attending them after a while (my sleep schedule is also fucked in said period making it harder), but unusually for me I did eventually catch up on them using online material. Having a lab partner to be accountable to certainly helped. The exam is on the 3rd of jan 2022 and the last lecture is on like the 14th, so I manage to sneak in a presentation of the last part of the programming course I was trying to finish in last period. It ends up being pretty last-minute, I think on the 22nd, but I pass without much issue. Now this is VERY SIGNIFICANT because the course I have at last completed is a 20-point course! My official points fully gained thus increase by 20, and I am now safely above 120 points, which lets me take advanced courses. This is important for my future planning. But back to the algorithms course.
    I take the exam with a bit less prep than I should have but certainly some prep, and the professor has decided to make the kind of section I do worst at double the points it notmally is, use even more obnoxious notation for it than usual, and use a problem I barely remember anything but the greedy solution for but ask about a dynamic programming algorithm. Despite this convocation of fuckery, I give myself a 75% chance of having passed the exam — it was multiple choice, so there’s little subjectivity involved. The results still aren’t in despite having sat it on the 3rd of Jan and it being fully computerized. Whatever I guess.
    [1] Let there be an assortment of DNA features resulting in what we would call a “chicken”. Then this assortment must have been produced by mating two non-chickens, or they in turn would have been produced by a chicken egg as described next. This assortment will first exist as gametes or whatever, then as a fused egg, then as a chicken. Since egg happens before chicken, the egg comes first. QED fuck any philosopher that goes against me I’m 110% right.
    [2] “What I expect” in Bayesian statistical terms, because I have read too much LW-style rationalist writing. For questions of something happening or not, this is just the percentage of the time that you would expect something “like that” to happen or not – give me a coin to flip and I’ll give you 50% for any one side to show up. For evaluating a number like an expected score for a vn (like how vndb does it in its Bayesian rating) or my estimated “translation quality” rating, it’s the average you would expect given no other information – a good prior would be the average of everything you’ve seen before in the category. Since most translations are bad (fan translations a bit worse on average), I expect this one to be bad also, in a purely dispassionate way that doesn’t actually give you, the reader, any useful information and could well be wrong. Also my standards are really high. Anyway, this digression has gone on long enough and made me look enough of an autistic dickhead to satisfy me, plus the more I talk about bayesian whatever the more formal error I’m going to introduce since it’s not like I really know it much other than in intuitive terms.
    [3] Friendly challenge to read as much foreign-language (mostly Japanese) text as possible in a month. Goes by the honor system.
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  3. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Zakamutt for a blog entry, Random translations #1   
    Over time, a bored translator tends to accumulate random pieces of translation they never went that far with, or did in 10 minutes for the shitpost for whatever reason, etc. Apart from that, I’ve personally done some scattered work for fan translations that may or may not ever see the light of day, some (very modestly) paid in ebooks. Anyway, here we go:
    1. Random demonbane fight/action scene
    I think this is from an expanded rerelease or something. There’s an absolutely meme error left in here where my brain read 拳 as 拳銃, even noticing my confusion in the comments but nevertheless failing to see the actual problem. I generally prefer translating directly in the script for VNs, so that’s what you’re getting. I did this one FOR FREE. I think this is about 3k-4k moji?
    2. Phantom of Inferno h-scene except there’s a lot of plot too
    This one’s funny because I was initially contacted about it because the guy thought I was a coomer translator doing mostly nukige. Ironically my actual skillset turned out to be very applicable to the script I chose to work on though, so whatever xD.
    Unfortunately I wasn’t doing the whole commenting out lines thing (and I changed the structure in places), so you can only really read this in something like a multi-file viewer. I promise the rest is better, okay? Anyway, here’s a zip with both the unaltered script and the translated script. I got paid for this with an ebook of shimeyuri, which I actually read afterwards. There’s a possible mistl in the script where 失禁 most likely (based on my expansive experience with illustrated japanese pornography) actually means wetting yourself and not “loosing your bowels” as I put it. I just couldn’t find as good a line that was more yellow than brown at the time so I coped. But it legitimately could mean both, so I leave the final decision up to someone who actually looked at the scene ingame.
    3. New tl for the subahibi soapbubble poem that’s actually from cyrano
    So yeah, this was originally French. And then through some route, it became Japanese, and was used in Subahibi. The current official localization uses a french to english translation, which is fair enough. But, well, the english translation, and espcially the lines chosen from it that I saw used in screenshots (idk I didnt actually read the english tl tho), seem to me to not quite be as clear as the Japanese. Since poems and such often change shape with translation, and Subahibi definitely wants to say something with its poems, I had to wonder if doing a translation from the Japanese might not be a better solution than merely choosing a translation from the French. Well, I could also consult the english translation too… Oh, and then I decided to specifically make sure to use words that would resonate with wittgensteinian thinking or whatever (“name” specifically. In formal logic you put “names” to stuff. Uhh anyway…). I haven’t actually finished subahibi, I stalled it in insects because the first part was really boring. ANYWAY, the poem, entirely devoid of annoying stuff like actually rhyming:
    Zaka adapted tl:
    We yearn
    Building castles of air from but a name
    Pining for a lover made of fantasy
    Take it, now
    This fantasy I made
    And make it into reality
    My romantic laments I have scattered far and wide
    Only you can give them a home at last
    Take them, now
    One day you will know
    I was not sincere; I was eloquent alone
    Original jp tl:
    Fr->en (brian hooker, not the one used in the official tl):
    I have amused myself
    As we all do, we poets–writing vows
    To Chloris, Phyllis–any pretty name–
    You might have had a pocketful of them!
    Take it, and turn to facts my fantasies–
    I loosed these loves like doves into the air;
    Give them a habitation and a home.
    Here, take it– You will find me all the more
    Eloquent, being insincere! Come!

    Is this good? …Well my tl could probably use some polish, but I think the approach is interesting. Then again, apparently subahibbers goes and explains the poem later on, so you could probably insert your explanation then and be more pure (as pure as a fr->en tl is, though!) to the original, I guess. Overall it’s a wash but I’m happy I got to shitpost.
    4. The two first pages of Hige wo Soru, Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou (LN)
    I was originally going to translate 10 pages as a work sample to troll one of my friends who was looking for people to translate LNs at the time, but I got too lazy to continue after finishing 2 pages. C’est la vie, innit? Also, the title given is my personal stab at a sensible title. Unfortunately the events in the book do not match the straightforward “X, then Y” structure of そして as commonly used, as Y actually happens before X in-story! Thus I choose to interpret it as listing two things that happened in no specific order.
    I actually translated this from scans, which is how I read higehiro 1. I have ebooks now to copy from though, so I’ll spare you the scan reader experience. Also maybe I should have used “beneath” instead of “under” the telophone pole? Whatever, man.
    I took in a runaway girl and shaved my beard
    Page 10:
     そう、デートに行ったのだ。後藤さんと。勤続5年目にして、ようやく彼女をデートに誘さそった。快く誘いを受け入れられて、これは行けるのでは! と期待を膨ふくらませながらデートに行き、動物園を一いつ緒しよに歩いた。正直、動物よりも後藤さんの横顔ばかり見ていた。ときどき、乳も横目で見た。
    The girl under the telephone pole
    My love was unrequited.
    Gotou was two years older than me, and my superior at work. She took good care of her coworkers; ever since I was in training, she’d always treated me well. Her smile was graceful, her attention to others’ needs palpable — she was always there to support me as my threw myself into the life of a wage slave.
    “If she had a boyfriend she coulda told me from the start, man…” I whined.
    I’d already lost count of how many beers I’d downed. My coworker Hashimoto was sitting across from me, his profile peeking out of the dim barlight. He chuckled briefly at my outburst, clearly amused.
    We’d been on a date all right, me and Gotou. First we’d gone to the zoo. To be honest, I’d been looking less at the animals, more at her. Sometimes, I’d snuck in a sideways glance at her breasts.
    Anyway, I wasn’t about to lose my shot, so I’d gone all out afterwards. I’d taken her to a fancy restaurant for dinner. I can’t remember what it tasted like at all.
    Page 11:
    I’d waited for the right time, and then I’d asked her: “Hey, would you like to see my place?” We weren’t kids — the implication was obvious. I had looked at her with uneasy anticipation as she gave me a troubled smile — and then, she had shook her head. “I’ve kept it a secret at work, but I’m afraid I’ve got a boyfriend.”
    “Then why the hell did you agree to the date?” I exclaimed.
    “Jeez, this is the sixth time you’ve said that today,” Yoshida said.
    “I’ll say it a thousand times over, damn it!”
    “I really would rather you not.”
    Yoshida watched me with a strained smile as I downed another swig of beer.
    “You really shouldn’t have any more to drink,” he said.
    “Dude, d’ya think I’m gonna forget how angry I am with just this much?”
    “Aren’t you just going to get more pissed off if you keep drinking? There’s no point to it.”

    5. Purposely bad “accurate” tl of song lyrics that I was going to show myself fixing in a blog post discussing kinda lame “accurate” lyric translation but I never did the work oops totally not coping no really I’m serious though
    Hahaha funny how things turn out right? anyway uhh

    カプチーノ ともさかりえ
    This is purposely sloppy and sort of meaning-only because I was going to write a post titled ‘how to make a typical youtube jp lyric tl’
    which then was going to feature a refinement of the lyrics
    or something to show the adaptations you actually
    should be doing if you’re subbing fucking songs
    I mean I’m not actually a god though so who knows
    if it was even a good idea
    but yeah that’s why this is garbage even if it is prolly ‘accurate’
    Wait for me to grow a bit more
    I want to make you enchanted with me
    So please spoil me while I struggle to do so
    I don’t get how you can just say
    You won’t even need a coat on when we next meet
    –The white of the milk is stronger than the brown
    I want to meet you, want touch you most of all
    To know every part of you
    To have an equal relationship between us
    Forgive me for running hot and cold
    I know I might be too selfish sometimes
    But don’t let that make you leave me on my own
    The scent of coffee hangs between us
    And I can’t hide my overbearing smile
    –I’m all bitter, haven’t found the right balance
    When we next meet early spring afternoon as the plum blossoms fall
    Will we easily slip through the crowd
    As we were able to today?
    We just get busy with our own lives
    And I don’t know how hard to pull you towards me
    But I’m worried you’ll just forget me
    We never promised to meet
    Anywhere or anytime
    And the sense that our feelings will fade
    Is all around us
    See through me more than anyone else
    That I talk rough and act tough is proof of how serious I am
    I want to meet you touch you most of all
    To know every part of you
    To have an equal relationship between us
    Forgive me for running hot and cold
    I know I might be too selfish sometimes
    But don’t let that make you leave me on my own
    Very sorry about that one, folks.
    6. Literally just this one excerpt from the adashima LN (idk what volume anymore)
    I picked this as an interesting translation “challenge” for a server I was semi-active in at the time because the excerpt referenced a distinctly Japanese cultural thing in the kuroneko delivery service and I wanted to see different approaches to it. The rest is just general writing skill I guess. Nobody else submitted anything because THEY ARE COWARDS ahem. Anyway this has an official tl but I’ve never looked at it (yet, growth mindset) to compare. The official tl is done by my friend and actually good translator Verde though so it’s probably cool.
    Shimamura laid her bag on the desk, then sat down on the futon. “Here,” she said, throwing me the yellow cushion her little sister had been using just before. I caught it and glanced at the motif: the familiar white and black cat mascots of the Kuroneko Yamato delivery service, holding hands. I put the cushion on the floor and sat down myself.
    7. Random line from I think dies irae or some other masada shit
    I was challenged for a take on this by a friend so I did. Then I did another take which was better so I’m listing both here. The context I was given was “context is, guy is standing on the bow of a magic warship during a big chuu2 battle and this is a description of what he looks like”.
    鋼鉄すら沸騰する灼熱地獄の只中で、吹き荒れる熱波に大外套を翻しながら口元を弦月の形に歪めている。 Take 2 (better):
    He stood in the midst of a raging firestorm, giant cape battened by its roiling currents. Unmoved by heat that could boil steel, his lips twisted into a crescent grin.
    Take 1 (does other stuff better maybe tho):
    He stood in the midst of a firestorm of ferocity sufficient to melt the toughest steel; his cloak billowed, spurred by the raging inferno, as his mouth crested unto a twisted smile.
    8. Mememasa poem with very little context because I shitpost hard okay
    This is pretty bad not going to lie. Anyway it’s a quick tl of part of the poem that is shown in the muramasa prologue (and presumable afterward as well?). Also it has a tl error where I should have said it’s the saint cursing the god and not the other way around oops.
    The saint performing miracles set to save mankind was cursed by God, to nausea
    The gold-crowned conqueror who ruled vast plains met his end when he drowned with his beloved horse, in the river
    The lady of the lake who forsook her country for love drowned in excrement, sentenced to death
    The orphan babe who drank maggotsblood for mother’s milk took three days to die, rotting from the inside
    Life, let my eulogy reach your tired ears and deepen your fury
    Life, hear my prayer and sleep soundly in thrashing joyous rage
    A hundred years’ worth of life was lost to fire and blade
    Seven days’ worth of life let to shine in innocence, guarded by stygian silence
    Frolic upon the fields, O beast, let loose your savage song
    No chain nor jail can stop you; all before you shall fall to dust

    ok so that’s all I can think of right now. I’m sure there’s more somewhere. I hope you enjoyed it if you actually read any of this kuso shit
    View the full article
  4. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Web Novel Review: Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou   
    Some people may have seen the relatively low-quality anime for Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou and are probably wondering why I am bothering to spout about this.  Lately I've been plowing through LNs and web novels because I ran out of interesting VNs, but this is the first one I feel a need to expound on at length.  Let's be clear, I am one of the freaks who enjoyed the anime, though I did so while wincing constantly at the animators' choices and the horrible monster CGs.  To me, Hajime's story just stood out as being that good, despite the crippling weakness of having used up half the season on the 'buildup arc' that is the content of the first LN.  
    However, I wasn't anticipating just how high in quality the web novel version would be.  To be blunt, Ryo Shirakome is one of those rare Japanese writers who really is as good as the hype and has a very obvious love of the material he is writing.  More importantly, he is very consistent with how he portrays his characters and their growth. 
    Story Intro
    For those unfamiliar with this series, it focuses on Nagumo Hajime, a young man summoned with his class to another world, only to turn out to be the overall weakest of the group and in possession of a class that is both common and unsuited for battle.   In the beginning, Hajime is a kind-hearted, pacifistic young man with a great deal of courage (and enough of an otaku that it survives all his travails) but no standout abilities.  However, when delving into the depths of the Orcus Labyrinth, his fellow classmates get caught in a trap and they are all sent to a much lower floor... to face a Behemoth, a monster that is beyond their abilities.  Hajime, despite his weakness, manages to help greatly in holding it off, but just as he is about to make his own escape, one of his classmates betrays him, directing a fireball to stray and hit him so that he will fall into the abyss with the Behemoth.  
    He survives the fall only to have his right arm eaten by one of the beasts in the depths in front of his own eyes.  In order to survive, he is forced into a corner where his previously kind heart is shattered and reforged in the fires of despair and hatred, reforming him into a man who sees the world in only two colors, those who are enemies and those who are not... and responds to enemies with death.  This is further reinforced when he eats a monster and has to endure immense agony as his body is broken and remade again and again, shaving away at his humanity with each cycle, until what remains is only one step short of a true monster.
    Main Story assessment
    That's a pretty bare bones prologue for you and essentially covers the content of the first episode of the anime and the first three chapters of the web novel.  Oddly, despite the horrific beginnings, this is as much a story about love as it is of hate and killing.  Yue, the story's main heroine, is the reason for this.  She is also the reason that this didn't turn into just another 'dark anti-hero goes out and gets revenge' story.  His meeting with Yue is one of several turning points in Hajime's growth as a character and one of the most well-orchestrated ones I've ever seen (regardless of whether it is the anime or the web novel).  Yue is the kindred spirit who helps Hajime stay one step away from the abyss of endless carnage he would otherwise have stepped into.  This is despite the fact that she is just as broken as he is, psychologically.  
    The way this story uses the various heroines to help Hajime regain bits and pieces of his humanity is perhaps the most emotionally powerful aspect in retrospect.  Yue helps him stop short of losing his humanity, Shia (the bunny-girl) stops Yue and Hajime from becoming completely isolated from the rest of the world, Aiko reminds him of what it is to be human, and Kaori reconnects him to his past, solidifying his reasons for his journey.   Without all of these heroines, it is likely this story would not have been nearly as powerful, as Hajime's journey would have probably just been a series of 'kill this, kill that, have sex with Yue, kill more'.  
    I didn't mention Tio, Shizuku and Myuu in the previous paragraph because they serve slightly different roles from the other girls.  Tio is pretty much just comedy relief as a character, despite being as in love with Hajime and the other girls.  Shizuku is, surprisingly, the most 'normal' girl in the group and the one who serves as the most solid connection between the self-isolating harem of girls who are mostly disinterested in anything other than Hajime (with Aiko being the exception, given her sense of duty to her students).  Myuu... well lets just say Myuu's role is fairly similar to Yue's, except that she awakens Hajime's obsessively protective instincts that come to define him later on.
    The story itself is dark and brutal despite the frequent humorous interactions between the characters.  This is inevitable, as the world of Tortus is a world ruled by an insane god whose greatest pleasure lies in ruining the lives of his slaves.  There are a lot of hugely powerful battle scenes, crazy plot twists, and hilarious results of Hajime's trip through Tortus.  The ending of the main story (which will probably be published sometime next year in the LNs) is as hugely dramatic as the beginning.  
    After Story Assessment
    The After Story, which is still ongoing, is HUGE.  It is almost as big as the main story, but it is told in non-chronological order as a bunch of arcs and one-off postings rather than in order.  Despite this, the After Story has provided me with probably fifty times as many laughs as the main story did.  Part of this is because what trials and tribulations that occur are mostly overcome by Hajime's already beyond-divine power gained during the main story or the power of his OP friends, wives, allies, and classmates.   Whether it is Myuu attracting UMAs, demons, ghosts, and youkai like a bug lamp attracts flies or Kousuke falling deeper into the chuuni abyss as he builds his accidental harem in Hajime's service, I haven't stopped laughing in weeks.  
    Of course, there are some deadly serious points, perhaps the most powerful of which are the stories involving Kouki, who struggles with the after-effects of his time on Tortus more than anybody else (for reasons that will be obvious to anyone who has already read the existing LNs or the main story of the web novel).  However, even in these, Shirokome does an excellent job of keeping the balance from taking you too far into grimdark to truly enjoy.  
    Overall assessment up to the present
    Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou does great at every aspect of what I want from this kind of story.  It has great feels, it has great comedy, it has awesome characters, and its plot is close to sublime.  More importantly, it is put together in such a way that all the elements enhance one another nearly to perfection.  If you like isekai with a wide dark streak that can make fun of itself, this is an excellent choice.
  5. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Flutterz for a blog entry, Reading Ginharu Very Slowly #19   
    Bet you thought this blog was long dead? Unfortunately not. Now that the translation project seems to be dead in the water, I've decided it's time to finish this VN and bring this blog back.  My Japanese powers have doubled since the last time I read this in Japanese, so it's actually going a lot smoother this time around. It's also nice that DeepL exists now, it's incredibly helpful when I'm having trouble figuring out what the hell they're trying to say in some convoluted sentence or something.
    Quick summary of the end of Bethly's route for all the 0 people that read my blog but don't want to read the actual good translation:
    Also, while reading Hinata's and Momiji's routes, I realized that each route has something of a recurring theme.
    Now, on with the show.
  6. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, VNs I still Remember, no matter how much Time Has passed   
    This might seem like an odd choice for a blog post, but it should be noted that, after more then twelve years and seven hundred VNs, remembering each and every one is impossible.  In fact, I hardly recall roughly 70% of all the VNs I've played, and less than 10% are memorable enough that I consider replaying them once in a great while.  I'm somewhat infamous for my lists, but I figured one more wouldn't hurt.  Remember, these are the VNs I still remember to the point where I can state almost everything about what I like and hate about each.  This list is going to be split into two parts, the VNs I loved and the VNs I loved to hate.
    The VNs I loved to Hate
    Suburashiki Hibi- Yes, I hate this VN.  In truth, I hate almost everything written by Sca-ji that I've read.  Sca-ji's style drives me up the wall (for some reason, it presses all the wrong buttons), and his love of unreliable narrators only makes it worse.  Suburashiki Hibi is just the most obvious example of a VN I can't forget, even though I want to, badly.  I can admit that Suburashiki Hibi is interesting... but to me that just doesn't stop me from hating it anyway.
    Aiyoku no Eustia- For a chuunige fan like me to actually outright hate a chuunige is actually fairly difficult.  90% of the reason I eventually came to hate Eustia was because of its true/Eustia route.  I didn't like Caim's rapid personality change, the fact that elements of the setting introduced in Eustia's path make all other paths impossible, and I absolutely loathed Eustia herself (what is it with the love for the helpless and frail heroine in some games?).  That said, it doesn't change the fact that I liked most of the game before I got onto Eustia's path... but it does mean that I will never admit this is a truly great game.
    Ryuusei World Actor- Similarly to above, this is a chuunige I love to hate, despite it being memorable.  There is one simple reason for this... it was made to be a prequel rather than a whole game in and of itself.  There is no sense of completion, no satisfaction to be gained by completing this story.  In addition, it was only recently that its sequel was - finally - announced.  Worse, Kinugasa Shougo's style of never really explaining the setting, except in the most oblique of fashions, greatly harms the enjoyment of this game's plot.  In the case of his previous works, it was relatively easy to extrapolate and speculate yourself into an understanding of the setting based on what was there, but there is a definite sense that way too much is left unsaid about this setting.
    Sakura no Uta- Oddly, this is a game I thought I would have loved, given the twisted relationships and messy backstory involved.  However, once again Sca-Ji's style of presentation and love of unreliable narrators drove me nuts.  Not to mention the constant abuse of foreshadowing and repetition
    VNs I Love so much they are unforgettable
    Dies Irae- Obviously, Dies Irae is one of the penultimate chuunige ever made.  While I personally think Masada turned into a complete incompetent after KKK, there is no denying the quality of Dies Irae's narrative, its characters, and the way it seems to age so well.  Dies Irae is one of those rare VNs that doesn't suffer at all from the passing of a decade or more between its original release and now.  That isn't to say it hasn't been left behind somewhat by the conventions of the genre, but in the end, that doesn't matter as much as you would think it would.
    Fate/Stay Night- Arguably the VN that turned chuunige from a mere curiosity to an actual niche genre.  While many people have a love/hate relationship with Shirou and the Nasuverse, there is no denying that much of the game is enjoyable and it embodies most of the virtues and flaws of the early era of the genre.
    Draculius- The VN that changed my viewpoint on the harem ending and actually did vampires right (outside of the comedy, anyway).  In all honesty, before I picked it up at random, I had no idea this would become one of my most-replayed VNs of all time.  While this game has aged poorly in some ways, in others it's presentation is almost ideal.
    Evolimit- In my mind, this game is Higashide's masterpiece, the defining game of his career, whereas others will argue that it was Ayakashibito.  However, for all that I enjoyed Ayakashibito, this is the game I go back to play over and over, whenever I want my faith in JVNs revived.
    Devils Devel Concept- No, this is not the best game out there.  It is a total niche within a niche game.  I love its characters and setting, but most people would probably drop it solely based on the artwork.  Devils Devel Concept taught me that the protagonist didn't need to be the good guy to be interesting and that heroines didn't need to be fainting lilies to make a chuunige work.
    Haruka ni Aogi, Uruwashi no- Let's be clear... visually this game has aged horribly.  It is from a much earlier era than most of the games on this list and it shows.  However, I  have to note that it is one of the single best nakige ever made.  I can still go back and cry for Tonoko, Shino, and Miyabi no matter how many times I replay it, and the sense of salvation after the end of one of those three paths, the catharsis is so strong that my stress buildup is perfectly lanced afterward.
    Houkago no Futekikakusha- I frequently give this as an example of the ideal 'hard' utsuge.  The situation the protagonist is in is hopeless from the beginning, and his suffering his pre-determined.  Moreover, when the story begins he is already broken almost beyond repair.  The way it is presented provides great catharsis, though like many hard utsuge, the setting is all over the place.
    Konata yori Kanata Made- Many consider the first Konakana to be the ideal for the 'soft' utsuge genre, and I don't generally bother to argue with them.  While similar games were made later on occasion, one can always feel the influence of this game in them, often to the point where it feels like they are almost plagiarizing parts of it.  
    Akatsuki no Goei- I have a love/hate relationship with Kinugasa Shougo.  He hates completing stories, he never explains anything unless he has to, and his endings are always open-ended unless he is coerced to make them not so.  Akatsuki no Goei (the series) embodies him at his best, with Kaito being a complex character that only appears to be your typical 'dameningen' protagonist if you aren't paying attention.
    Hapymaher- What often comes back to me about Hapymaher, compared to later Purple Soft games, was the ideal synchronicity of its aesthetic and its music.  It is very, very rare for me to bother complementing a VN on its music, since most essentially use rearrangements of old BGMs without accounting for unique themes and atmosphere.  While there are some severe obstacles to making this an easily replayable game (the Christmas arc is overwhelmingly boring the second time around), it is still a VN worth experiencing.
    Semiramis no Tenbin- Semiramis no Tenbin is an oddity.  It is a game based in a school setting in modern Japan that doesn't gloss over Japan's social flaws or exaggerate them to excess.  I say this because the Japanese are as good at pretending certain issues don't exist as we white Americans have been at pretending racism doesn't exist.  Not to mention that the beginning of this game locked it in my memory eternally.
    Nanairo Reincarnation- This is one of the few games in my VN experience that I actually out and out named a kamige on first playthrough.  I don't regret it today, and I don't think I ever will.  I could put down any number of reasons to love this game, but it is better, in this case, for readers to make their own conclusions.
    Akeiro Kaikitan- I mostly chose to keep multiple VNs by the same author and team off this list.  However, I should note that I have actually replayed Akeiro six times since its original release... despite it having been released in 2016, a mere six years ago.  I play it about once, sometimes twice a year.  Why?  Because it is still interesting no matter how many times I read it.  The presentation of the various paths is about as close to the storyteller's ideal as it is possible to get, making it difficult to get truly bored of if you put some time in between replays.
    Komorebi no Nostalgica- Say what you like about Takaya Aya, but his moments of brilliance definitely leave an impression.  Komorebi no Nostalgica is easily the best (mostly) non-action sci-fi VN I've ever read.  Ironically, the primary reason for this is how the central non-heroine character, Cinema is handled in the various paths.  It is impossible to fully explain to someone who hasn't played the game just how powerful a role Cinema plays as a supporting character as well as the game's central character, and I'm not even going to try here.
    Ayakashibito- While Evolimit is my favorite Higashide game, I can't fail to mention Ayakashibito here.  Ayakashibito is the work of a genius, and it most definitely shows.  It was also the VN that first showed Higashide's basic style, which almost always utilizes a protagonist with an intimate relationship with the true heroine that continues to thrive regardless of heroine choice.  Ayakashibito is less refined than Evolimit, but in exchange, it also feels more freeform than some of his later works.  It also established his creation of high-quality antagonists (Kuki Youkou, Shannon Wordsworth, etc).
    Ruitomo- Ruitomo is probably the most famous of all the Akatsuki Works games, for good reason.  It is a high-quality classic plotge from an era where such games were relatively plentiful, and its style was the one that defined the expectations of fans for the company's games, though they later took things in a more action-focused direction.
    Kikan Bakumatsu Ibun Last Cavalier- This VN is one I push for weaboos who like the romanticized eras (Sengoku Jidai, Bakumatsu era, etc).  It is based in an alternate world where young Japanese women are sometimes chosen by 'demon-aura stones' that grant them immense physical powers and heightened intelligence in exchange for being unable to have children and being naturally more aggressive than is the norm.  As a result, these women are generally adopted by samurai families and raised to be bodyguards, assassins, and in various other roles normally reserved for men.  The protagonist is a young man raised by a feminized version of Kondou Isao and Hijikata Toshizo and is essentially Okita Soujirou.  It begins previous to the formation of the Roshigumi and branches off after the initial stages of the rebellion that began the collapse of Tokugawa power.  
    Sekien no Inganock- This is pretty much the only Liar Soft game I didn't have trouble playing.  In retrospect, it isn't as good as I remember it being, but it is still enjoyable.
    Majikoi- Say what you want about Majikoi.  Various people either love or hate it and everything by Minato Soft, but I personally think it was an excellent base that they used effectively to milk the setting.  Later games and fandiscs added depth to the characters and expanded the cast, and this, the original was a great game (in my eyes) in itself.
    Grisaia- Probably the most popular VN to introduce VNs to newbies now that Tsukihime and FSN have become so dated as to be almost unreadable for new people.  Like many VNs that got translated, it has a lot of people either worshipping or hating on it, but its quality (in Japanese) is undeniable.
    Soukou Akki Muramasa- Easily the best game Nitroplus has ever produced.  While it is a heavy read, it is also a VN worth reading at least once, if you have the mastery of Japanese to do so.  However, it is also emotionally draining, so many who start it never finish it.
    Hello, Lady- I could have chosen any of Akatsuki Works' chuunige, but with the final version of the game that includes the FD routes and the new true route, this game has easily become my favorite Hino Wataru game.
    Kitto Sumiwataru Asairo yori mo- A game by Shumon Yuu.  Nothing else needs to be said.  Play it, or you aren't a true JVN fanboy.
    Tenshi no Hane o Fumanaide- An oddball sort of chuunige by Shumon Yuu.  This one is fully voiced (protagonist included) and has a solid story and cast of characters.  
    Silverio Trinity- of the three Silverio games, I'll say right off that this is the one I liked the most.  While Vendetta has some great moments, Trinity is where I thought the setting first came alive truly.
    Sakura, Moyu- Honestly, I think this is the best VN, by far, that Favorite has produced.  I cried more while I played this game than in all the other games combined, and I was more emotionally invested in the story than any of them by far.
  7. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Thank you all for coming along for this ride! (Indefinite Hiatus)   
    Hey there all!
    I will start with saying  that I really treasure my time spent writing this blog and interacting with various people involved in the EVN community. You guys were awesome company in this journey and despite the obscurity of this project, I feel like it benefited me personally in many ways and maybe even helped people appreciate the value within the non-JP visual novel scene. I'm really thankful to all the people that read my blog, the devs that offered me their time and gave me their games for review – they all made these 2+ years into something special.
    When I started this project, there were two main things that motivated me. The first one was the frustration over dismissal of EVNs which is still common sense in the large parts of the VN fan community – belittling of the very games that made me fall in love with the visual novel formula. I wanted to create a space that is fully dedicated to discussion and promotion of EVNs as worthwhile and significant part of the genre. The second part was even more personal – my personal struggles with video game addiction and other issues, my ambition to shift my focus into a more challenging and creative activity. In many ways, I consider both my goals relative successes. While slowly, the perception of EVNs is changing and the scene evolving in interesting ways – while it shares pretty much all the suffering of other indie niches, with PC gaming in general being oversaturated and hard to navigate, I feel that it at least established itself as a significant formula that is attractive for story-oriented devs and appreciated by a significant audience. In other words, EVNs are here to stay and in time fewer and fewer people will be able to easily dismiss them as poor imitations of Japanese games. Whether my work had any impact in this regard? Apart from a bunch of people on Fuwanovel that I know I influenced in personal interactions, I honestly have no idea. I want to think there was some minor impact, but I had enough fun in the process and learned enough that I don't mind either way. I did my best and changed a few things about myself, which was the most important part for me.
    Of course, I'm in no way saying that I'm putting the blog on hiatus because my job here is done. The real reason is much more prosaic – I just can't keep up with it. The last month was particularly devastating in this regard, with very little time for me to either read or write. And while an obvious answer would be to just work at my own pace and publish stuff whenever I'm able to, it's not really something that would work out for me. Missing deadlines, thinking about future projects, it all became a source of stress rather than a source of fun, and I feel it would only get worse with time. While I really wanted to keep the project alive, I don't want to do so at any cost. I feel burned out. I barely read VNs for fun. I don't watch anime for a few months now. I need a change of pace and ability to rediscover my love for these hobbies. The blog, sadly, became a prime obstacle in this.
    So, what's going to happen now? The blog will cease to get updates, unless something special happens. I might still do game jam summaries, as those are something I massively enjoy. I might also publish something on Fuwanovel from time to time – I'm theoretically still an editor there. The one part of the project that's definitely here to stay is the Steam Curator account. The devs that sent me their games deserve to at least get a Steam review and, generally, an evaluation of their work. I will also use my Twitter to publish updates about new games listed on the Curator account. The Steam reviews themselves will likely be a bit more polished – not that much though, I don't want to jump straight into the same burnout-inducing rabbit whole.
    So, once more, thank you for sticking around and I hope my project gave you some amusement. And, of course, see you around – I'm not giving up on EVNs and the community around them any time soon.
  8. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Jardic47 for a blog entry, Are visual novels being treated fairly?   
    Hello everyone. My name is Jardic and I just thought of something that I got me thinking tonight. I was looking around the internet and I was reading Reddit and here on Fuwanovel and I was wondering what the deal is with people saying that they like a visual novel and it is always the same visual novels time and time again. I know people like the medium for different reasons, but when I look up a list of VNs people like, it is the same ones as another person I saw. I also know that it is a niche market for people to like these games but come on. If I was wanting to know what VN to play, chances are I already have that game on my hard drive. No one talks about the obscure visual novels and I was wondering why that was? It just bugs me to see the same the same VNs on someone’s list and I don’t see a person to give me a reason to purchase more visual novels.
    I know the previous paragraph was a little harsh, but it’s the truth with some of the things this genre of games gives me. I wish that there were more visual novels compared to video games so that people can recommend me a visual novel that can raise my interest a little more. I wish more people could be more interested in VNs so that there would be more games to offer. Sadly, I wish I could see that happening, but I know it will remain a niche market.
    I remember when I got into this medium of games three years ago and I thought it was a million times better than what I was playing at the time. Most of the games I played before visual novels were your typical action games like GTA or shooters like Call of Duty, but I digress. All I am saying is that I wished the visual novel community was more diverse in what they play. I’m not trying to say that everyone’s list is a bad list, I’m just saying that putting some games on a pedestal is not a good thing sometimes. I come to these communities to find out when some VNs are being released and to see if there is another visual novel to raise my interest.
    Sorry for saying stuff that might trigger some people, but I thought this blog would be a good idea to vent a little bit. Let me know what you think, and I will see you guys next time.
  9. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to alpacaman for a blog entry, Umineko's opening scene   
    The recent discussions about Umineko here on the forum made me want to pick up the whole damn thing again. Only this time I'm going spend even more time on it because I'm taking notes. I'll take the game's advice though and not focus on the howdunnits (which it argues are trivial and unimportant), but rather on what meaning is hidden inbetween. I'm doing this mostly for myself, though every now and then I might feel like turning my thoughts and interpretations into a blog post like this one.
    The German realist author Theodor Fontane (1819-1898) once said "the first chapter is always the main point, and within the first chapter the first page, almost the first line." While I think he is exaggerating a little bit and tbh I only opened with a quote of his to get a chance to mention how much I hate his writing (some of his novels are required reading in high-school in parts of Germany), it is true that the opening to a novel or any piece of fictional media can be a more important part of the work than it is often given credit for. Which brings us to Umineko's first scene. While it might not be the most spectacular example out there, I think it does what it sets out to do so well that it is worth taking a look at it from an analytical standpoint. I'm going to mention one or two twists that happen at later points in the VN, so you might not want read any further if you do not want to get spoiled.
    The scene takes place at an unspecified point in time in Kinzo's study with him, Nanjo (his doctor) and Genji (his head servant) present. It starts out with Nanjo telling Kinzo to lay off the alcohol as the medicine he prescribed to keep him alive won't work otherwise. Kinzo responds by saying the liquor (which has a sweet scent and a venomous green colour) has been with him longer than Nanjo, and that it is what is actually keeping him alive, not the medicine. Then he orders Genji to serve him another glass, but water it down a bit. Kinzo asks Nanjo how much time he has left, to which the doctor replies by comparing it to their chess match which is apparently entering its final stages and where Kinzo managed to corner Nanjo's king.  The physician suggests Kinzo should write a will, which the latter one heavily objects to: "...And what is a will, Nanjo? Handwritten instructions to the vultures on how to devour and scatter my corpse?" He wants to leave nothing behind and insists everything he built up during his life shall disappear with him, as it is part of the deal he made. He goes on to speak about his only regret, which is not being able to see the smile of the witch Beatrice once more, resulting in him screaming at thin air offering his remaining life to her for her to appear before him one last time. Opening Credits roll.
    The main thread running through the scene is a lingering conflict between what is "real" and what isn't, already introducing one of the main themes of the VN. This starts with the setting and props: There is no real indication if what you see takes place in the real world or some fantasy realm nor does it properly fit into any specific timeframe. The occult study, Kinzo's gown and the venomous green liquor all make the whole scene look surreal, but then there is also a real world physician doing standard medical examinations. In this sense the whole dialogue between Nanjo and Kanzo can be read as a conflict between material reality and fantasy, with Nanjo and his medicine or science representing the former and Kinzo having completely embraced the latter. Nanjo tries to bring Kinzo to care about his own physical wellbeing and his remains (stand-ins for material reality), both of which the latter one doesn't care at all about. The liquor in this context is basically a metaphor for fantasy. It has an inviting scent but looks like venom. It poisons Kinzo and according to him is what actually keeps him alive at the same time. His addiction turns his health and life miserable (as well as those of his children), while it is also what keeps him going. The booze or rather fantasy keeping him alive is also rather funny imo considering we later learn that, while he is part of all the "non-real" scenarios, in "real life" he has already been dead for quite a while. [It has been some time since I read the VN the first time so I don't really remember if the booze motif gets used at other points but it is one of the things I am going to keep an eye on this time around.]
    One of the main and more obvious purposes of an opening scene is to make the audience want to read on, usually by using a narrative hook. In this case it is the question about Beatrice's existence. You immediately ask yourself what the deal is with a witch that might or might not be real and that some weird and menacing old man is apparently trying to summon. Her (non-)presence is one of the main threads running through the whole VN and it gets established in the very first scene. This hook also ties right back into the overarching uncertainty of the scene about what is "real" and thus one of the main themes of the VN.
    The whole scene imo exemplifies pretty well what Umineko excels at, namely tying its separate narrative layers together. From the outset, characterization, plot, horror, fantasy, metaphor and theme are never truly separable but form a coherent and interwoven whole. I only implicitely talked about characterization and didn't even talk about why Genji is present in the scene at all or about the introduction of the chess motif (or the Kinzo being dead before the end of the game part). But since I already spent too much time writing this I'll keep it with one of Umineko's core messages and let you figure out how these things tie into the rest yourselves.
  10. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, The Fairy’s Song (Yuri VN Review)   
    The last time we talked about a “modern fairy tale” VN with a yuri spin to it, it was a very special one – Studio Elan’s Heart of the Woods, which I confidently gave my first and, so far, only 5/5 rating. The way it mixed relatable, modern characters with an emotional fantastical plot resulted in experience in many ways unmatched within the EVN scene. It also showed the huge potential of this formula, handling the clash between mundane and supernatural in a different way than typical fantasy or horror stories. Today we’ll be looking at a game that took similar themes and utilized them a more low-key, light-hearted way – ebi hime’s newest yuri VN, The Fairy’s Song.
                    Released on Steam and Itch.io early August 2020, this project is a slight departure from ebi’s usual, angst-filled storytelling, focusing more on cute romance and comedy. Fairly similar in tone to 2016’s Strawberry Vinegar, which also combined modern-day slice of life story and supernatural elements, it plays on classic themes of knights, monsters, magic and sleeping beauties, but puts them in a configuration that gives the whole setup a very different meaning… Which doesn’t necessarily mean The Fairy’s Song manages to offer many surprises or that it feels particularly fresh in how it utilizes those tropes and story elements. But why is that exactly, and is it really a bad thing?

    But have they really…? There is certain sloppiness to The Fairy’s Song's lore and the overarching fantasy plot, but thankfully it can’t overshadow the charm of the characters and the yuri romance
    The Fairy’s Song's protagonist is Marnie, a goth teenager who tries to make up for her small stature and naturally cute looks with dark clothes and a (slightly) mean attitude. We meet her when she’s being dropped to her grandmother’s house in a small, remote village, quite unhappy with the time she’ll have to spend there while her parents travel abroad. Her grumpiness is only strengthened by the fact her grandmother, struggling after the death of her husband a year earlier, is a shadow of her former self – not just frail and weighted by her loss, but also disturbing her family with frequent talk of fairies and other magical phenomena supposedly present in the surrounding forests. However, what was meant to be a boring and depressing stay is turned on its head when Marnie ignores her grandmother’s warnings and walks deep into the forest. There, she is confronted with several inexplicable events, but most importantly, she discovers an unconscious girl dressed like a knight – Leofe, who apparently spent centuries sleeping in the enchanted grove and is now determined to repay Marnie for waking her up.
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  11. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Zalor for a blog entry, Umineko Final Impressions (Spoiler free)   
    I literally just finished reading Umineko around an hour ago. So these are my raw thoughts and immediate reflections after completing it. I will probably do a more comprehensive overview of Umineko after I've had it digest for a couple of days.
    What a beast... I first began this journey in mid May, and I've just finished it now. So in around 4 months time, I have clocked in at a total play time of 141 hours. In that time I've not only finished University, worked on multiple projects (both personal and academic), read several books, but I've also moved and started a job. This is to say, I've been quite busy in between reading Umineko. And I've taken multiple breaks from it. It has not been a completely consistent ride from beginning to end. But also, it feels weird to part with it now. Even if I wouldn't touch it for a stretch of weeks sometimes, in the back of my mind it was always present and I felt a pressure to get back to reading it whenever I could.
    The ending was fantastic, and I feel fully satisfied with it. But now it feels like I have to part with a friend I got to know very well. And despite being quite happy with most of the twists this story had to offer, I can't deny that at times it was a slog. Reading the last part of Ep.8 today I thought I was nearly finished, and yet it still took me ~4 hours to complete. This was mostly due to a very dragged out fight/battle sequence that while interesting in parts (especially at its end), mostly felt bloated. And this criticism of bloat is by no means reserved for only this part, but rather is a consistent issue throughout. The highlights of Umineko are so great, that when you do get to those parts often you instantly forgive the frequency of tedious and dragged out scenes you had to suffer through in order to get to the truly exciting bits. Yet none the less, even if forgivable, these bloated scenes are no joke.
    If you have an average reading speed like I do, these tedious sections can sometimes take up hours of your time. This was part of the reason I frequently took breaks from Umineko. As often I would finish a fantastic climactic scene and call it a day. But then I knew that the next part would be one of those mundane sections which made it hard to get back into reading the VN the next day. I would actually procrastinate reading Umineko at times precisely because I knew I was facing a part that would be dull and stretch out for a couple of hours. And when its a nice Saturday evening and you can do literally whatever you want, resigning yourself to reading something that you know will be boring for the next 2 hours is a hard decision to make. Even if you know that by powering through those 2 hours of boredom, you will be rewarded thoroughly in the 3rd or 4th hour.
    If Ryukishi07 got himself a decent editor I think Umineko could have been a quarter or maybe even half as long, and still be just as good. Actually it would probably be better, because then you wouldn't have the unnecessary excess anymore. Despite that though, when Umineko is good it truly is at the level of masterpiece. There really is nothing like it.
    The entire cast, for the most part, is very strong and memorable. I think that is Ryukishi07's greatest strength as a writer. He consistently creates very interesting characters. And even if his writing often drags on, you still put up with it because you want to see more interactions with these characters and what will happen to them.
    The introduction of Furudo Erika in the second half was a great treat, and I enjoyed her sadistic and incredibly cruel personality immensely. It was great fun to watch her do intellectual battle and make enemies with everyone. Then there was also Bernkastel, who has been a favorite of mine since early on. In general, all of the witch and supernatural characters were great in my mind.
    George, Jessica, Kanon, and Shanon never quite fully grew on me, though I did eventually grow more sympathetic to them. However, I definitely found the parts that focused on them the least interesting bits.
    From episode 1, watching what seems to be the setup for a typical murder mystery evolve so much in scope over the various episodes, I am at awe reflecting on it all now. The story goes in so many different directions, and yet it feels entirely consistent with itself. It's a mystery like no other. It manages to literally breaks all the rules, and yet somehow sticks to them. That in itself, honestly, is proof to me that magic exists.
    For anyone that enjoys great fiction, Umineko is certainly a work worth reading.
  12. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Getting back into VNs after time away   
    For most people who play VNs, taking a break is a normal thing.  Even taking a hiatus of a few months or a year seems to be standard for many in our little community.
    For ten years, for me, it wasn't.
    My new addiction to litrpgs succeeded in breaking me of my compulsive VN-reading for the first time in a decade.  While some might consider this a bad thing (and have told me so), others have said that it was a good one.  Personally, as I've started playing Purple Soft's latest game, Seishun Fragile, I'm leaning more towards good than bad.  Many things that had ceased to be joyful in recent years have regained their luster, such as cheap manzai humor, obvious moe, and general donkan harem protagonist antics.
    I won't say I love that last part (ha, like that would happen), but I can say that my viewpoint on it is less... bitter and jaded than it was before.  I've had a refresh, and 
    I don't regret it, despite how much it built up my backlog with those few games I bought anyway despite not starting any.  One thing I find interesting is that I find it easier to find good stopping points than before, instead of just forging on ahead for a straight twelve hours and then flopping into bed.  I no longer stare at the screen for entire days while downing endless snacks and bottled water.  
    I also didn't want to get rusty on my Japanese, which is why I started up a new VN today.  It was then that I realized that I no longer felt the pressure that still remained, even after I tossed aside VN of the Month.  To me, this was an amazing sensation, harking back to my third year playing VNs, when my love of the medium was at its most fanatical.  
    I've advised many people to take a step back and rest from VNs when they have started to lose their way, but this was the first time I took my own advice... and it worked (even if it was by accident).
  13. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Zalor for a blog entry, The Function of Ellipses in VNs   
    VNs sometimes get criticized for their overuse of the ellipse (…). And I suppose I'll start my defense of the use of ellipses in VNs, by extending an olive branch. VNs do misuse the ellipse to an astounding degree, and I have an interesting little anecdote demonstrating this point. In college, me and some friends decided to spend a Friday night getting drunk and reading the worst VNs we could find. We stumbled upon Gender Bender DNA Twister Extreme. There is a LOT wrong with this VN, but a glaringly consistent detail of bad writing we all noticed was the excessive use of ellipses. After we all collectively noticed and pointed out how often ellipses were being used, we decided to start counting every instance of an ellipse we spotted. Keep in mind, they had already been used plenty before we even started to count. Before we even reached a total playtime of 1 hour, we counted over 100 uses of ellipses, and gave up counting after that. I share this anecdote for two reasons. Firstly, as a petty example that Gender Bender DNA Twister Extreme is horrible and I almost want to say it has no right to exist. And secondly that overall I am in agreement that ellipses do get misused often in VNs. So I am not entirely attacking this point of criticism, but I do think that many who do champion this specific criticism of VN writing miss one very important function that the ellipses achieves in VN writing, that it can't achieve in traditional print.
    The written word as it is presented in VNs is transient. With each click you typically receive one line at a time. And after a certain point all the lines disappear and you are greeted with fresh words from the top of the screen if NVL, or the top of the dialogue box if ADV. Furthermore often (though not always), sentences aren't displayed whole at once. But rather they get displayed in a sort of typewriter effect. This means that regardless of whether the narrative is in past tense or present tense, the occurrence of the text and the story to the reader will always be in the present. Character dialogue, internal monologues, narrative descriptions, it is all being presented to us in real time.
    A book on the other hand has everything written out and open to display. You can scan the whole page as well as the next page, and you have equal access to every page of the book at any given time. Want to skip to the ending? Well the medium can't stop you. This is not true of VNs. You can fast-forward, but you can't just skip to the end. The only way you can typically access specific parts of a VN is by creating a save point and therefore being able to load it up whenever you want. But you only have that option for everything you already read, you can't just pick and load sections you haven't experienced yet. Because for all intense and purposes, that's in the future. It hasn't happened yet. In other words, there is a sense of time in how the narrative of a VN gets expressed.
    Well in VNs, the ellipse can be used to demarcate time and expression. In this way, VNs can literally show the passage of time, without having to tell it. And I always thought the golden rule of writing was “show don't tell”, in this function the ellipse is being used optimally to show and not tell.
    Here is an example of how I would write a certain passage if I were writing it for a book/short-story, and then I will proceed to rewrite it for a VN.
    “I don't know about that,” she briefly paused while biting her lip, “you sure it will be okay?”
    Visual Novel coded in Renpy:
    “I don't know about that...{w=1.5} you sure it will be okay?”
    The {w=1.5} is a wait command in Renpy that pauses the text for 1.5 seconds before resuming the rest of the line. Without having to tell the reader “she briefly paused”, we literally showed the pause by manipulating the speed in which the text gets displayed. The ellipse helps signal to the reader that the character is hesitating to express her thoughts, while the {w=1.5} command is running in the background.
    Now if the detail of “biting her lip” is also important to you. You would have to script things slightly differently, but you could make it that after the ellipse her sprite changes and bites her lip and you hold on that image for 1.5 seconds, before transitioning back to her previous expression and continue the text. So now you not only showed her hesitation and the gap in time it took for her to finish her thought, but you also showed her expression change. This is a way you can “show and not tell” with VNs that you could never achieve when writing for traditional print media.
  14. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Stellaren II (Western VN Review)   
    Stellaren, released exclusively to mobile devices in 2017 was an important game in my engagement with VNs. A dark sci-fi adventure with a captivating setting and a tense, at times brutal story stood out significantly from most other visual novels available for smartphones and I think to this day is one of the best dedicated Android/iOS games of its kind [you can find my detailed review of it here]. It also cemented my love for VNs as a storytelling formula and while some of that infatuation was definitely connected to me being a fairly inexperienced reader, many elements of Stellaren’s worldbuilding and character development are genuinely bold and interesting – and to the point where I wasn't even bothered by its rough edges and clunky gameplay elements.
                    Because of all this, it is an understatement to say I was excited to hear about the release of Stellaren II July this year, coming out not only for mobile devices but also on Steam. Promising heavily updated visuals, a set of better-polished gameplay elements and a substantial, conclusive story (its predecessors had a tendency to end on cliffhangers), it seemed like a massive treat for someone like myself, already in love with this universe. What I found was both different and more complex than I expected – but did it capture the charm and stomach-gripping qualities of the original?
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  15. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, NaNoRenO 2020 Highlights, Pt 3 – Romance VNs (Non-otome Edition)   
    Hello there and welcome to the third and final part of my NaNoRenO 2020 highlights! While in the first two posts I focused, respectively, on otome and horror VNs, this last batch of recommendations will be about other romance stories submitted to the event. I have to admit upfront that this is likely the least exciting list of the three, with no game standing out to me in a similar way as Enamoured Risks did among otome entries or Eislyn's Apocalypse did among horror ones. However, there's still a bunch of solid and interesting titles in this category, my favourite being probably Café in the Clouds, with its lovely visuals and memorable dreamworld sequences. Also, the jam has something to offer for fans of all typical romantic configurations, with BxG, BL and Yuri couples strongly represented.
                     As always, all the games I'm writing about are completely free to download, and clicking their titles below will get you straight to their Itch.io pages. Also, I've skipped projects that were submitted to the event but proved low quality or did not offer a complete experience (meaning I exclude all demos and prototypes by default). So, please join me as I wrap up this insane, months-long project of thoroughly covering the biggest NaNoRenO in history – hopefully, you'll find something interesting among my recommendations.
    Love Rewind: A Magical Time Travel Romance (BxG/BxB)

    Love Rewind is a short romance story with one male and one female love interest, themed around regret and desire to change the past. Yuki, the protagonist and young mage-in-training, loses everything in a futile attempt at saving his terminally ill mother. Broken by this failure and the destroyed relationship with his fiancée Quinn, he isolates himself from the world – an empty, depressing existence that would likely last for the rest of his life if not for the appearance of a spirit, taking form of a cat. This powerful creature forces on him an opportunity to relive and change the events that led him to ruin, and regain the love he lost – or maybe forge a different path altogether…
                      This VN, while a bit rushed and lacking the proper buildup particularly for the BxB arc (Quinn’s route at least have the background of protagonist’s relationship from the original timeline), has a few things going for it. Yuki is a decent protagonist, whose desperation and pain are easy to emphasize with, and the core story has all the satisfaction inherent to plots where you avert a looming disaster. The love interests simply don’t have enough time to develop as characters and truly shine, but they work well enough as incentives for the protagonist to not repeat his past mistakes. The end result is not a great romance VN, but a nice short story in its own right – and one that looks and sounds very solid for a game jam entry.
    Final Rating: Recommended
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  16. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Zalor for a blog entry, Umineko Mid-Point Impressions (SPOILER FREE)   
    Umineko is a beast of a work that I've been putting off for many years now, probably around a decade. I first learned about it after watching the Higurashi anime back in 2010. At first I stayed away because I wasn't a fan of Ryukishi07's sausage-finger art. However these days it seems that most common ports of Umineko utilize updated art. But, that still left one other huge factor for why I was so intimidated by Umineko for so long.
    The estimated reading time of both the Question and Answer arcs is around 150 hours. That's a huge time commitment, and I am not a particularly patient or fast reader. If a book doesn't grab my interest within the first couple of chapters I feel no remorse in dropping it. And I apply that same rule to everything I read or watch. So works that have slow starts but supposedly “get better, I promise it gets way better if you continue with it!”, are works I generally avoid. But hey, Subahibi proved to be exceptional and I had a hunch that Umineko would prove to be as well.
    Essentially the whole coronavirus lockdown presented me with a rare opportunity to finally tackle Umineko. My last semester of Uni got delayed by over a month, and I figured if ever in my life I would have time to read Umineko it would be now. So I purchased the Steam releases of the Question and Answer arcs and installed the voice patch. Which by the way was a slight pain in the ass to do, since the voice-patch is banned in Japan for some copyright protection reasons. However using a VPN managed to solve that problem.
    To date I've read the first 5 episodes of Umineko including their associated tea party chapters. Which according to Steam clocks me in at 88 hours (I wasn't kidding about being a slow reader).
    I admire the balls it took for Ryukishi07 to literally take the most cliched premise of a “dark and stormy night in an isolated mansion” mystery setup, and to turn that premise so much on its head that my attention is wrapped entirely in the web of the narrative he has setup. And without being pretentious about it, Umineko makes it clear that the mystery genre, and literature in general, is something that Ryukishi07 holds dear to his heart. It is very much a love letter to the mystery genre, while also being a complete deconstruction of it.
    More than that though, it isn't just the plot which is masterly crafted, but what makes it standout is that it truly fleshes out its entire cast. Characters aren't just there to be pieces in a puzzle to solve, even if at first they may all seem to be fairly generic. Gradually as the layers peel, you will see the facade in much of the interactions between the family and all the conflicting and complex motives various characters hold beneath the surface. And above all, they are all sympathetic despite being quite flawed.
    If I had to pick one character in particular that was surprisingly much more complex then I anticipated, it would be the 9 year old Maria. I fully expected her to be a simple little kid character, who was there mostly to just be cute or maybe to be used for cheap tragedy. No, far from it. Even Maria has complex motives of her own that reach surprising levels of depth. And so if even the initial impression of a 9 year old can be deceptive, I think we can easily imagine that being true for the rest of the cast as well.
    What I found consistently very impressive about the work, is that as I mentioned previously I am not a patient reader. I hate it when stories have segments of seemingly dull character interactions to establish build up. This usually gets me in an irritated mood where I think, “This better be building up to something great, because I'm in no mood to settle for good.” And invariably, every single time so far that Umineko ordered for my extended patience, it was rewarded well beyond my expectations.
    A story that I initially found off putting precisely because of its length, is now a story I don't want to end. The irony, huh.
  17. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Ramaladni for a blog entry, Master Magistrate Full-Version Review   
    After a couple months of wait, the full version of Master Magistrate was released! This review is an update of my early-access review. I removed or corrected outdated information, polished my thoughts a little and added my thoughts on the final chapter and the epilogue.
    Master Magistrate is a pretty cool murder mystery detective visual novel with a historical setting.You'd be hard pressed to find something quite like it, the closest would probably be Great Ace Attorney or Elf's Mikagura Shoujo Tanteidan. Overall, it has a bit of a weak start with its introductory chapter, with the pacing picking up on the second one. Third chapter is hands down the best for me, in terms of gameplay, plot and character development and the last chapter makes for a great finale, tying perfectly all the loose ends and expertly resolving all of the unsolved mysteries. Exciting revelations and myriads of twists await you. And if you're a fan of the more SoL parts, the heroine routes are nicely integrated in alternate epilogues for the story. There's porn too (it's optional, just buy/don't buy the Adult DLC).
  18. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Mizuchi 白蛇心傳 (Yuri VN Review)   
    Anyone observing the EVN scene should know well that yuri, besides being my personal obsession, is one of the most vibrant niches for non-JP visual novels, with many studios and creators dedicated to this theme and a very active fanbase. This seems to be particularly clear nowadays, as even companies like Winged Cloud, the infamous producers of low-effort VN smut, capitalized majorly on the trend, producing mostly GxG games for the past few years. On the other side of the spectrum, Studio Elan recently pushed the standard of quality for EVNs in general with their modern fairy tale, Heart of the Woods. As a result, yuri fans have a lot to choose from, both when it goes to quality work and amusing trash.
                    The game I’ll be writing about today, Aikawa Collective’s Mizuchi 白蛇心傳, definitely aimed for the “quality” side of the spectrum and seemed like something that could rival Studio Elan’s hit with its climate and visual spectacle. This yuri-themed retelling of the famous Chinese folk tale, the Legend of the White Serpent, looked spectacular in its promotional material and easily reached its Kickstarter goal of $8500 in September 2018. While the development cycle for it proved long, going 9 months beyond its initial target of August 2019, it never lost its place as a promising and highly-anticipated yuri EVN. Releasing on Steam and Itch.io in mid-April 2020, it gathered overwhelmingly positive feedback – but, did it truly live up to the hype?
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot. com
  19. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to alpacaman for a blog entry, AlpacaReviews - Part 2   
    Hello again and welcome back to the second part of my series of short reviews of EVNs I picked up. Once again I have a mixed bag regarding both content and quality to get through, so let us dive right in.

    Eliza (Zachtronics)
    Eliza follows our protagonist Evelyn Ishino-Aubrey and how her life and those of others change due to the eponymous AI counseling program she developed some years prior. This is the most ambitious game I'm going to talk about today, mostly being a meditation on how people search for meaning in their lives in a highly technologized society rather than a plot-driven story, with some interesting choices when it comes to its storytelling and game mechanics. Most of them work really well (like the implementation of choices), while others turn out to be double-edged swords. Especially the lack of a distinct central conflict both underlines the MC's lack of direction nicely and makes the VN quite boring to read at times.
    When it comes to presentation though, Eliza is probably as good as it gets with EVNs. The art style and soundtrack are quite unique and really aid the overall atmosphere, and the game is completely voiced, with most VAs doing a really good job. Eliza also contains the best and most challenging Solitaire card game I've probably played so far and on which I might have spent more time than reading the actual VN.
    Eliza is one of those pieces of media where it is hard to figure out whether you will like it before picking it up. If its themes and atmosphere resonate with you, you will probably really like it. I couldn't really get into it, but I can still acknowledge what it tries to do and where it succeeds. It just isn't for me.

    The Miskatonic (Rapscallion)
    Speaking of not being for me, The Miskatonic is a comedy VN with a sense of humor I just can't stand, so I dropped it about one hour in. If I had to describe it, I would say it's Big Bang Theory humor (including its reliance on short skits) in a Lovecraft setting with a good measure of sex jokes (get it, it's funny because everyone looks gross). If that sounds like your thing, go ahead and check The Miskatonic out. For me personally though the short time I spent on it felt like a Lovecraftian nightmare in a very different way then the creators presumably intended.

    Misadventures of Laura Silver: Chapter One (Studio Attic Salt)
    The Misadventures of Laura Silver series (assuming there is going to be at least a chapter two) takes place in 1920s Czechoslovakia, following a duo of supernatural investigators. Where this game absolutely shines is its cast. Laura Silver might be one of my favorite detective MCs with her arrogant and quick-tempered personality. There are several instances where you get the choice to pull out your gun just because someone made a mean comment. The other characters have their entertaining quirks as well, making for a lot of funny dialogue. This first entry suffers a little from a few issues opening chapters in serialized stories tend to have, namely some technical problems (none of them game-breaking though), some interesting though a little clunkily executed gameplay features, and unsteady pacing. The first roundabout two thirds revolve around a murder mystery, while the last part consists of a lot of exposition.
    Overall it's a promising opening, but it definitely feels incomplete. I would say it's one of those VNs where you should wait for reviews of the second chapter when it comes out, but then again if nobody buys the first chapter, there might not be a second one.

    Miss Fisher and the Deathly Maze (Tin Man Games)
    Another series of short murder mysteries, Miss Fisher and the Deathly Maze actually includes two cases. There won't be anymore though as the series has been discontinued due to poor sales (there is only two user ratings on vndb and one of them is mine). Only after starting to read did I find out that it was actually based on an Australian TV show (which in turn is an adaption of a series of crime novels) taking place Down Under in the 1920s, and it shows in how little the game bothers with proper character exposition. This isn't too much of a problem since every recurring character has a personality that is pretty easy to grasp. The cases feel like they would fit right into a pre-primetime serial, which might be one of the reasons the game didn't do so well commercially. It could also have to do with the fact that the Miss Fisher series feels like it is geared towards women 50+, a demographic that isn't exactly famous for buying a lot of PC games.
  20. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, The End of an Actress (Western VN Review)   
    Human beings are contradictory creatures, whose behaviour is rarely as consistent as we would like to see and whose motivations are often complex, to the point they’re not fully understood even by the specific person themselves. This fact is often minimized in fiction, which instinctively strives for clear narratives and characters that are ultimately possible to fully understand and assess according to some kind of moral standards. At the same time, there’s undeniable value in exploring the ambiguity of the human condition and ebi-hime is one of the EVN authors that do it with a borderline-painful consistency, often creating harsh or melancholic plots and populating her stories with deeply flawed, realistic-feeling characters. And her latest release, The End of an Actress, definitely do not break this trend.
                    Released on Steam in late February 2020, this new title by ebi is loosely based on the last years of Marie Antoinette’s life, where she was imprisoned by the revolutionaries and eventually executed for her perceived crimes against the French people. It transfers these core events and many features of the queen’s biography into a fictional setting, closely resembling 18th-century France, but without any pretences for full historical accuracy. However, instead of a grant political tale, what plays out on this stage is a very intimate drama involving the deposed queen, Liliane, and Marcus, a revolutionary who led the assault on her palace and unwittingly became her jailor. In isolation and hopelessness, the relationship between the two will be redefined in a few possible directions, fluctuating between naïve fascination, hate and, possibly, mutual understanding and affection, making for a rather captivating literary experience and one of my new favourites in ebi’s catalogue. But what makes it this special?
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  21. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Steam Curator Wrap-Up – Winter 2020 (Legend of Everything; Weeping Willow; Usagiri; Revenant March; Tell a Demon)   
    Hello and welcome to EVN Chronicles' seasonal Steam Curator Wrap-up, where I cover the VNs sent to me for review through Steam's Curator Connect functionality. Lately, I’ve come to a sad realisation that I’m unlikely to keep up with all the games I’m receiving, with the appropriate tab in my Steam library growing more and more intimidating over time. However, I’ll be still working to give a chance to as many of them as possible, and assess them for all of you.
                    This time around, I've been able to check out five titles, the main highlight being the newest VN by the Indonesian studio Kidalang, Legend of Everything, with its deeply unique spin on the isekai formula. This is, however, not where the interesting stuff ends, as the climatic Revenant March and wonderfully-stylized Tell a Demon also proved to be strong contenders, making this one of the most compelling lists I've worked on in this series. So, please join me in this brief overview and if any of the games catch your interest, you can go straight to their Steam pages by clicking their titles. Enjoy!
    Legend of Everything

    Legend of Everything is definitely the most unusual visual novel in today’s post, particularly because of its subject matter. At first glance, it might look like a simple spin on the isekai formula, with an inhabitant of a fantasy-themed, video game world being the protagonist and interacting with a particularly chaotic person transported there from our reality. However, pretty soon it transforms into a giant thought experiment, and basically a lecture on the simulation hypothesis – the idea that our universe is actually a simulation created by some advanced intelligence. This notion might seem absurd at first glance, but is made less so the more you learn about modern physics theory and strangely arbitral rules that govern various phenomena it describes. While never fully abandoning the formula of comedic fantasy adventure, Legend of Everything thoroughly explores this idea and conveys tons of legitimate science knowledge, basically becoming the most moe course on modern science you're likely to can find, presented in a highly accessible, but genuinely educational way. If you’re at least marginally interested in this kind of topics, the game should be quite enjoyable to you.
                    What’s less impressive, in my opinion, is the visual side of the experience, dependent on subpar-quality 3D sprites and environments. It’s particularly disappointing in contrast with the rather-stylish art in this studio's previous titles, An Octave Higher and One Small Fire at a Time. However, I was pretty quickly able to look past it thanks to how enjoyable the writing was, consistently combining well-constructed science discussions with quirky characters and humour, and even some epic and heartfelt moments worthy of a “proper” fantasy story. Saying anything more would inevitably involve spoilers, so I’ll simply recommend everyone to check this game out – it offers a lot more than you’d expect at first glance.
    Final rating: Highly Recommended
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  22. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to MaggieROBOT for a blog entry, Togainu no Chi + DEMO is out   
    JAST Blue is slowly but surely releasing Nitro+ CHIRAL's catalogue in the west. While these games had their patch long ago and every person with a passing interest in BL probably already read them, these releases certainly made it easier for fans of physical versions, HD CGs, uncensored dicks, merch or just our good old users of windows 10, as the original have a hard time to even run properly in our favorite OS (N+C did release compatibility versions, but it's not like the old patches even work with those).
    This year it's Togainu no Chi's time, N+C's very first game and the most edgy of the bunch. I DID review this game in the past but huh... it REALLY doesn't do a good job at promoting the game...
    Okay, so, if I didn't like this title in the first place, why am I even here? Because I really feel it's worth mentioning the demo of the game (you can grab it here (JAST) or here (Steam)) contain one whole route for free and it's most likely porn-free even, so if you ever get slightly interested in this but not enough to spend money, hey, today is your luck day! It's only the third best boy, but they can't be THAT generous now, can they?
    Is this a good game to get into the BL side of Nitroplus? Well, if you ask me, no. But I won't pretend parent Nitroplus isn't edgy af too and this game is actually pretty popular to this day, even among Japanese fans, so maybe I'm the one with shit taste here!  
  23. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, VenusBlood FRONTIER International – Steam Version (JP VN/sRPG review)   
    When it goes to the Western market for Japanese eroge, VenusBlood FRONTIER is one of the most interesting marketing phenomena in the recent past. Belonging to a series that is most known for its corruption theme and related sexual content, it was rather brilliantly rebranded with a focus on its in-depth gameplay mechanics and the morality system which allows players to shape the fate of its fantasy world in various drastic ways. It is also a game I was highly anticipating because of its rare premise – the ability to play as an anti-hero protagonist who can either become a ruthless oppressor, or a benevolent tyrant protecting the world from destruction and terror. All this coupled with a set of goddess heroines that can be either corrupted into obedient tools, or allied with for the goal of protecting the innocent people trapped in the apocalyptic conflict, and destroying those responsible for starting it.
                  The international version of FRONTIER is also a bit more than just a Western release of a classic SRPG – it is, by most measures, the definitive version of the game, with significant improvements and new content added thanks to the localisation project's Kickstarter funding. Its goal was very clearly to attract both English-speaking and Japanese players, which at the same time it makes it even more of a notable treat for the non-JP audience. High-budget games of this type very rarely appear outside of Japan, and even less often reach Steam, but the Western release involving significant improvements rather than just cuts and localisation-related glitches is borderline unheard of. 
                  This doesn’t mean that the road onto the biggest PC distribution platform was without hurdles: the final version, released in late January 2020, had to make some concessions when it goes to suggestive content and language, deviating from the initial “all ages” version the studio created. However, the full 18+ version is, in the old-school fashion, available for Steam players through a free patch, and what's worth pointing out, even that version gives a convenient option for opting out of all explicit content. Just by selecting the “skip extra scenes” option in the settings you can avoid h-scenes completely, making the whole game pretty approachable to players that would rather skip the porn and focus on the core story. And in my experience, even the most “compromised” Steam version is a complete-feeling and satisfying experience. But, what exactly it has on offer and can Ninetail really hope for it to get the attention of more "normie" crowds?
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  24. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Fallstreak (Free VN Review)   
    You probably saw many cataclysms in stories you’ve read or watched in the past. Disasters that were natural, technological or magical in nature, limited in scale or apocalyptic, resulting in short-lived crises or civilisation-ending. From Muv-Luv through Swan Song to I Walk Among Zombies, plot-oriented visual novels never shied away from presenting these kinds of scenarios, and along with literature, they’re uniquely positioned to explore deeper consequences they could have for both individuals and whole societies. 
                    Fallstreak, a free game released on Steam on October 2018 as a debut title of a small studio under the name Centicerise Productions, is one less-common EVNs tackling this topic. It does so by focusing heavily on a group of people affected by such a catastrophic event – mostly average folk, crippled physically and emotionally by the mysterious Fire of Collapse that ravaged their isolated country without a warning or identifiable source. It’s also, generally speaking, a wonderfully-produced piece of VN that I’m wary of recommending to people due to its surprisingly extreme content and open-ended story, quite clearly meant as an introduction to its world and a prologue to future games utilizing the same setting. So, what are the main reasons to check it out, or to skip on visiting the fantasy realm of Socotrine at least until Fallstreak’s continuation shows up?

    The amount of stories-within-a-story and subplots that are never elaborated upon makes Fallstreak feel more like a prologue leading to a proper story than a standalone experience
    Fallstreak’s Steam page claims that the game’s protagonist is Adelise Cotard, the daughter of Socotrine’s ruler and a little girl with a mind of an adult. Atypically mature due to the time she spends in the Golden Dream, a lucid dreamworld full of knowledge which she enters nearly every night, Ade is indeed the character through which we initially experience the story. These introductory chapters, rather relaxed and light-hearted, mostly follow her and her group of friends through some everyday situations – a normal life in which only physical scars some of them bear and occasional reminiscence hint at the dramatic past. However, she’s neither sole focus nor the only protagonist of the game. In its second half, when we start learning about other characters’ backstories and the details of Fire of Collapse though flashbacks, she’s not only pushed to the background but mostly absent, with crucial events taking place before she was even born. At this point, the game switches perspectives on a regular basis, focusing mostly on various members of the Lirit family, whose children are Adelise’s classmates in a private school for those orphaned or otherwise affected by the cataclysm.
                    In the meantime, we’re also introduced to a ton of information about Socotrine itself, a land isolated from the outside world by the apparently impassable, magical mist. Its impoverished, but stable history was shaken up by the arrival of a refugee convoy from beyond the barrier, around 20 years before the game’s main events. Bringing with them advanced technology and knowledge of the outside world, refugees affected drastically both the land’s political balance and the way of life of its people. Eventually, the convoy’s “Lost Children” revolted against the ruling aristocracy of Socotrine and brought in an era of prosperity. At the same time, the game opens many questions about their origins, actions after traversing the mist and their connection to the Fire of Collapse which nearly destroyed the whole realm. Adelise’s personal story is also apparently related to much of this, with the Golden Dream, her father’s dethronement of the Lost Children’s leader and her mother’s death all signalized as mysteries crucial to understanding Socotrine’s predicaments, although without many hints on how they’re actually significant.

    Fallstreak’s story turns bleak without much warning and introduces scenes that wouldn’t be out of place in the darkest of horror stories – it’s not a VN for those faint of heart
    If this sounds like a lot to fit into a relatively short, 80k-word VN, it definitely is. I also skipped a number of lore details and subplots that could be considered spoilers, and as you can imagine, very few of those receive any kind of answer or satisfying conclusion. The game does not shy away from extensive infodumps and introducing character after character, many of them either signalizing stories that might be told in the future or being little more than exposition props. It also includes allegorical stories told by various characters, which further draw the readers attention away from its actual plot-points and protagonists. At times the memorable, high-quality visual design and solid characterisation are main things preventing it from devolving into an incomprehensible mess. The unique characters and the sheer beauty of all visual assets make it easier to get immersed in the world and look past the absolute overload of story threads the game bombards you with, without ever tying most of them together.
                    While the pacing is definitely an issue in Fallstreak, the most problematic part might still be its tone: it often jumps from rather relaxing slice-of-life moments to unsettling mysteries, and then to over-the-top tragedy and absolutely grotesque violence. The aforementioned backstory of the Lirits is full of gut-wrenching moments, drastic enough to disturb even a relatively experienced and desensitized reader like me. I’m not sure all of them belonged in this story – some very much balanced on the border of absurdity and if they had a real narrative function beyond the sheer shock factor, it’s not clear at this point. It’s not a massive problem if you can handle that kind of content, but it definitely makes Fallstreak not an experience for everyone, especially because the intensity of these segments was not properly signalized by previous events and very much caught me by surprise.

    The visual design of Fallstreak is impeccable and helps a lot in fleshing out its characters and world, making them surprisingly memorable
    If what I wrote so far paints a pretty bleak picture, it’s because Fallstreak’s problems could’ve been fatal if not for how just this polished and well-put-together it is. The prose and dialogue, despite the heavy exposition and anachronistic jokes that I’m not sure make sense in the setting, are very solid. Elements such as character’s speech patterns and personality quirks save them from being forgettable in the overcrowded storyline. And in the end, it’s the beautiful visuals and music that really make it stand out. The characters look distinct and expressive, while backgrounds and CGs are hard to take your eyes off. The assets are also pretty abundant for a free VN, with just enough environments, sprite variants and full illustrations to consistently keep things fresh. The original soundtrack is very climatic, with mostly sombre piano tunes underlining the sad reality of the game’s world. It all comes together in a way that I’m not sure I’ve seen in another free VN.
                    So, ultimately, what do I make out of Fallstreak? It’s definitely not a bad game and the main problems it suffers from came rather from the developers being overly ambitious than a lack of effort. They definitely tried to fit too much into one package and didn’t follow up properly with new chapters. If I read it right and it is a starting point for a commercial franchise, we should already be seeing much more concrete signals about its continuation than the sporadic teasers present on the developer's social media. It’s not an abandoned project, considering I was directly approached by the studio behind it not a long time ago and the latest updates on the continuation are fairly recent, but whether you should read it depends mostly on whether you’re ok with reading a story that is essentially unfinished (and is going stay like that for a while), and whether you're willing to deal with its grimdark elements. For me, it was definitely worth the time I’ve spent reading it and as a free VN, that time is all it will ever ask from you.
    Final Score: 3/5
    + Beautiful visuals
    + Climatic soundtrack
    + Memorable main characters
    – Frequent infodumps and clunky exposition
    – Gets over-the-top with the brutality of the backstories
    – Feels more like a prologue than a full story
    VNDB Page
    Play Fallstreak for free on Steam
  25. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Bewitched by Graven VNs – That One Visual Novel I Tried Proofreading...   
    Today I wanted to talk a bit about an interesting project, and one that provided me with a unique opportunity to, for the first time, act as a proof-reader and do minor editing for a sizeable VN. Because of this personal involvement, this won’t be a full-on review, but more of a loose rant, highlighting both the worthwhile aspects of the game and my somewhat-peculiar experience with it. The VN in question, Bewitched is indeed a rather interesting one, as all games by Graven Visual Novels are – just as they are weighted down by extremely awkward translations from Russian and inherent flaws of their author’s prose. This time, however, the developer made their first attempt to work on properly polishing the game’s English script with the help of a few volunteers (including my gloriously dyslectic person). This move was quite likely inspired by the discussions I had with them regarding their previous projects and the problems with their English versions. If my involvement in the EVN scene ever made a tangible difference, this is the most concrete example of it, and I hope you’ll be willing to join me as I briefly explore what that difference actually is…
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
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